This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Ah, the end of a busy week.

You’ve got one thing to do before the weekend. Catch up with the thoughts of some amazing Ontario Edubloggers.

This week’s posts come from:

On cultivating curiosity in the classroom

I don’t think that there can be enough posts on this topic. Just how do you inspire that sense of curiosity? In this post, Rob Cannone shares some of his ideas for use in a connected world.

Most of the ideas have a technology slant and I don’t think anyone should ever apologize for doing that. It sure beats a lot of the simple minded activities that we know can happen, particular in an uninspiring iPad classroom.

One stuck out at me and reminded me of how old school I am, I guess. I’ve always relied on RSS and an aggregator for pulling things for me to stay on top of things. Admittedly, I felt adrift when Google Reader went away but The Old Reader is my go-to now.

Rob suggests a newer concept – allow an appropriate website to do its updates for you via push notifications. I’d never thought of that but the concept is interesting. Very little is required of students to use the feature. The teacher would need to suggest some sites that would be helpful and would have to know how to turn them off when no longer relevant. It’s an interesting concept; I hope Rob writes more about how he uses the concept.

In the post, he also shares three other ways that he “cultivates curiosity” in his classroom. It’s good to see someone still using QR Codes.

Educating Grayson: How Do We Make Inclusion Work?

Last week, I’d taken a look at some of the thoughts from Paul McGuire about inclusion. He was inspired by the current educational direction and an article from the Globe and Mail.

In this post, Aviva Dunsiger shares her insights about how she makes including a child with autism into her classroom. Of course, being a kindergarten teacher, many of the suggestions may not apply everywhere but I’m sure could lead to inspiration of your own.

Of interest, is a long paragraph of bullet points that start with “I did” and enumerates many of the things she did.

And, what would an Aviva post be if it didn’t have a lot of purple and an explanation about how self-regulation fit into her plans.

If you’re in the position of dealing with inclusion, you might find a tip or two here from Aviva.


In a world of #onewords, this choice from Ann Marie Luce is very interesting.

She hasn’t identified things like “balance”, “leadership”, “health”, or any of the traditional words chosen by so many. That doesn’t mean that they’re bad; it’s just that she has taken a different tact.

Readers of this blog will know that I’ve been enjoying reading about her experiences as a principal in China. She’s taken advantage of her location to do some travelling in the Far East and apparently wants more.

So, here word is “Explore”.

Where, why, and what happens to her former job in Ontario? You’ll have to read her post to find out.

Update: Assessment

Lisa Corbett paints a wonderful picture of some interviews with her students for report cards.

In the process, she’s describing the process of interviewing that she uses. In this case, it’s about Mathematics and she asks each child to solve 7 + 9. Crackers, that is.

She describes the responses as falling into one of three methods for solution. But, it’s the description of each of the three methods that had me hooked, reading this post.

The only thing missing was whether of not anyone is biting on their tongue as they do their thinking!

Words Matter. But Sometimes the Interbrain Matters More.

From the Merit Centre blog, John Hoffman shared a thought and a personal reflection about comfort.

I think we all grew up with the sage advice…

Choose your words wisely

It was good advice then and still good advice today. Of that, there can be no doubt.

But what happens when that isn’t enough?

John shares some thoughts about the interbrain and applies to a particular home situation.

Reminders like this can be so powerful and even more powerful is recognizing just how it works.

Speaking on and about black male students

Matthew Morris shares an interesting personal situation of writer’s block. So, far, he claims that he has the first sentence of a message to staff written about an initiative that he wants to start. That’s about it.

You’d think that, in education, we’d have a solution for him. After all, we talk about education for all, don’t we. Can an author get a little help?

Apparently not.

The school system maintains a storage shed of words and phrases ready to deploy at any time for describing black male students. Our black boys are our most vulnerable, or our “at-risk” ones, or the underachievers, the disadvantaged, or underserved, or our minority students. The list of descriptors goes on and on. When speaking on their plight, we offer our pre-stamped condolences through nouns and verbs like concern, or challenge. It is no wonder we seem lost in white man’s land – spinning our wheels in the vehicle of progress only to end up in the same position over and over again.

Isn’t the fact that we have that “storage shed” in itself a condemnation of those goals that we speak so glowingly of?

If you own a traditional shed at your place, you will undoubtedly clean it out every now and again. If we truly believe in education for all, isn’t it time that this shed get the same treatment?

Ideal PD?

From Peter Cameron’s blog, he shares this graphic.

What’s the topic?

If you guessed, picking the best professional learning experience for yourself, then you’re a winner.

He got me thinking about my own learning, both when I was gainfully employed and now.

I think I can boil it down to this “Find someone you admire for a particular reason and analyse why you admire them. What makes them stand apart from the rest? Learn as much as you can about them and what they’re doing.”

When I look at it through this lens, it makes so much sense. It takes the location, venue, and time out of the equation. If I truly believe that I’m a lifelong learner, I should be constantly in search of the next great thing to learn. It takes me away from those that superficially skimmed a book or attended another presentation and now present themselves as “experts”.

It seems that, at least for me, the onus is on me to be the initiator and searcher of learning opportunities and not just taking back what someone else things is good for me. I guess that’s why I enjoy reading blog posts where people are sharing their current thoughts and experiences.

How about you?

I hope that you enjoyed this collection of posts. I know that I certainly did. Please take a few moments and click through to read them in their entirety.

And, of course, make sure that you follow them or their blogs for more.

For more in the Friday “This Week in Ontario Edublogs” series, click the link at the top of this page.

This post was made to:

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


From 2018

As we sit here waiting for 2019, I decided that I’d take a look back at the blog for the past year. I could do analytics to find the most popular posts but, in these days of spammers, do they really mean anything?

Instead, I decided to pull up blog posts for a month at a time and identify the blog post for that month that I have memories of. Good, bad, indifferent, analytics – whatever strikes my fancy.

You can check out any individual month by clicking on its name. And, hey, it was a chance to use the Drop Cap option of the new WordPress editor.

There are some posts that aren’t in the running because they’re just fun to write. These include:

These posts all are so special that they’re all indexed above if you’re interested in checking them out.

Enjoy my look back.


Who said that?

This was a little test to see if you could identify the commenter based upon their comment only.


Historical Pinned Pictures

You only have to be around this blog for a while to know that I have a weakness for maps. Pinning images to locations is just cool.



A mapping of indigenous communities. There was so much to learn from this.


London-ish’s Edu-Royalty

As I prepared to attend EdCampLDN, some thoughts about the contacts I have there.


Election education issues

As we headed into the Provincial Election, Paul McGuire had started a list of topics that educators need to be aware of.


Gnome Tossing

All work and no play ….


Some serious drop and dragging

Far and away the best session from the CSTA Conference for me.


Playing catch up

My thoughts about how my education had let me down with respect to knowing and understanding indigenous issues.


On Friday

My thoughts about #FollowFridays and how they should work.


A Hallowe’en Playlist

The best music for the scary night.


About Self-promotion

A bit of a rant about people who live on social media to promote themselves without engaging anywhere or making things better for anyone else.


A month of command line fun

Lest you think that I’ve lost my geeky soul.

So, how did I do?

Do you have a favourite post of mine that should have made the list?

Have a safe and Happy New Year.

This blog post was originally posted at:

If you find it anywhere else, it’s not original.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy last school Friday of the school year. I hope that it’s an enjoyable day for you and that you’re looking forward to recharging over the next couple of weeks.

And, of course, getting some inspiration from Ontario Edubloggers.

December Reflections

Inspired by a post from Lynn Thomas last week, Lisa Cranston wrote a short post to let us know some of the major things that happened in her life this past year.

  • got her PhD (she looks good in purple)
  • published a book
  • got introduced to podcasting via voicEd Radio
  • presented at the Bring IT, Together conference

It definitely was a busy year for her bringing all this to fruition. Congratulations and I hope you’ve left some room to learn even more in 2019.

Combatting Christmas Craziness: Are You With Me?

I’m not sure the general public fully realizes how teachers earn their dollar and a quarter during the month of December. So many things just appear to happen by magic, leaving kids so excited as a result.

Aviva Dunsiger shares a wonderful picture of what most people think of preparation for the holiday season.

But then …

A reminder that the time of season isn’t necessarily the same for all students.

Never Bored with Board Games

The Christmas season is a time around here to bring out the board games and have some killer competitions to prove your superiority. (It’s not that we’re competitive at all…)

The typical game fare around here would be things like Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Taboo, or Malarky.

In Diana Maliszewski’s Board Games club that meets regularly, they go even further. This post introduced me to a whole new slew of games…

  • Numbr9
  • Codenames
  • Looping Louie
  • Dixit
  • Tsuro
  • Ice Cool

None of which I’d ever heard of before. I’m going to have to take a trip into town and check them out.

It’s a neat concept, probably only available if your school is located close to this vendor but having a company come in and introduce a few new games is absolutely wonderful. (and good marketing)

Sit Back and Enjoy

Virtual Reality has always been “the promise” on the next horizon for educational environments. Eva Thompson lets us know how it works with her recent trips.

I really did laugh out loud when she described the students’ reactions and acceptance of what she was offering. I could have written the same descriptor from watching grown up teachers work in virtual reality at the Bring IT Together conference at the station run by Tim and Max King.

It seems to me that there are two environments in play here.

  • the virtual environment that the person wearing the headset is enjoying
  • everyone else looking at that person and their response to the stimulus they’re enjoying. That person ever stands or sits still

When you’re on the outside looking in, you just have to laugh. Eva weaved a great description of what it looked like to her from a teacher perspective.

The Podcast Broadcast – This week, it’s all about music!

When you look at the podcast collection on voicEd Radio, there really is a nice big and diverse collection.

The only real theme is that they’re all related to education somehow.

But, Paul McGuire saw a different theme that he took to his own latest podcast – music.

He saw that thread in podcasts from

  • Gavin Foster
  • Bedley Brothers
  • Shane Lawrence
  • Mark Carbone

and brought it all together in his own podcast. What’s interesting is you can read the post and then listen to the podcast or vice versa. I like that approach.

In my case, I read the post before the podcast was even posted.

In response to “Best of Both Worlds”

Recently, I had written a blog post about my feelings about blogging and podcasting. As you probably know, this blog post comes out Friday morning at 5:00am but on Wednesday at 9:15, Stephen Hurley and I do a radio show and chat about some of these posts at that time. Stephen records the show and puts it up for later download and listen is anyone is interested.

My reflection lead to one of his own by Peter Cameron. I think we’re kindred souls and I absolutely agree with…

My podcasts are anything but perfect

Is it the fact that we have backgrounds as educators that nothing less than perfection will do?

I still get that awkward feeling in my stomach as I move my cursor up and click…

OK, technically, it’s this button but you get the concept.

It’s the same feeling I get when Stephen has got his coffee and says “Stand by” at precisely 9:14:30.

But, Peter, if you didn’t put yourself out there, all the great ideas and thoughts that you have would go unheard in the educational world.

Forget the rules of education; you’re not being marked, you’re inspiring others. There’s no greater tribute that could be said about your work.

Keep it up.

A Model for Student Achievement

I really like this model put forth by Regan Morris about the 21st Century Competencies that we hear about so often.

That part that is often missing in the discussion is typically a way to bring it together, assembling various components. Regan does this in the diagram shared with this post.

There was another observation that I think is crucial for success.

 In order for this to be successful in the classroom, teachers themselves need to practice the Global Competencies.  This also can’t happen in isolation, but needs to be a part of the school culture.

So, let’s let Regan leave us with a thought to ponder over the next while.

Is this the culture in your school?

I hope that you enjoy these blog posts and that they get you moving and thinking on this Friday. Please take the time to click through and enjoy them at their original source.

While This Week in Ontario Edublogs on voicEd Radio won’t appear next Wednesday (we’ll all be out at Boxing Day sales…), there probably will be a blog post next Friday. I like what Lynn Thomas and Lisa Cranston have done to highlight their past year. If you’re looking for a writing inspiration, why not take their lead and answer the challenge. Tag me with your post; it would be nice to include it here.

Follow these inspiring bloggers on Twitter…

This blog post was originally posted at:

If you find it anywhere else, it’s not original.

Response to spammers

I haven’t written this recurring post since the summer time.  Interestingly, I do go in and check the comments that are sitting in blogging jail cells in case something legitimate needs to be approved.

After laughing at a few, I thought bringing them public might be enjoyable for all to read.  You can’t make this stuff up!

I feel so badly that you had to walk away from your kittens.  I’ll bet your bestie in Montana hates you now.

A more interested person might have sent it to Google Translate.  Oh, OK.  I gave in and decided to have it translated.  I’d hate to this I’m missing something important.

“But no one is going to persuade you to do this. To read the newspapers where you will probably write. The editor of Gmyz must have two skills; thinking and logical drawing conclusions. From your entry it is clear that these advantages are alien to you, because it is probably best for you to absorb the pulp of the leading “Mendi”. And maybe it is worth to have a wider seeing (you do not have to agree with them) for the same problems, even on this sensitive page. I’m happy.

I should have gone with my first instinct!

Well, there’s always The Google.  It would have been far quicker than writing a spam reply and then waiting for me to answer your question.  (And, quite frankly, I have no idea what your question is)

Ever wonder what happens when a dictionary barfs into a reply?

It’s actually kind of neat that people “take a break” from things to read my blog.  I’m still not sure of what the purpose is though.  And yes, babies and small cute animals do love me.  A big cute dog does too.

Having a utility to catch spam really is a nice thing to have.  It’s no wonder that a lot of people turn off the ability to reply on their blog posts!

For the record, I took a break from wrapping Christmas gifts in order to write this post.  My big cute dog was helping.  It’s the one time of year that I regret going digital as my start in wrapping is to find a pen that actually works to address the tags!

Have a terrific Tuesday.

This blog post was originally posted at:

If you find it anywhere else, it’s not original.

Testing Gutenburg

If you take a look at my blogs posts from Saturday and Friday, you might have noticed some bizarreness depending on when you looked at them.

They’re very much not written in my style (as they ended up).  I have a theory.  It’s a combination of me trying out the new Gutenburg editor for WordPress and my editing / review habits.  Normally, I write in short sentences with lots of white space in between.  I read somewhere that that was the easiest way for people to read blog posts instead of something that looks like it was ripped from the pages of a book.

If you’ve been following WordPress for a while, there was a “new and improved” editor released a while ago.  It has a nice crisp look to it and I’ve been using it ever since.

Recently, there has been a bunch of news about a new editor “Gutenberg”.  It appears at the bottom of the traditional Admin panel of WordPress.

So, ever the curious, I used it to write a couple of posts recently.  WordPress advertises it as “publishing in blocks”.  What’s a block?  I was curious too.  These are my “Most Used” blocks.

Now, when I first fired up the Gutenberg editor, I thought something was broken.  The entire edit menus that I’m accustomed to seeing were missing!  But, there was this little circle with a + sign in it so I clicked.  It wanted me to add a block.  Since most of my blogging is text, I added a paragraph and I was off!

The right status bar on the dashboard has changed as well.  It now makes a distinction between the document which is what I’ve been used to seeing and blocks which had additional settings.

Once you start adding blocks, it becomes apparent what happened to the edit menu.  It’s now tied directly to the block that you just added.  Only the options that are applicable to the current block are available.  I had been complaining about the jumping to the top of the document in the other editor when you add a link or an image.  Now, everything exists within the current block.  It makes sense once I figured it out.

I’ll be honest; it took a bit of getting used to.  But, now that I’ve gotten used to it, I understand.  The best comparison I can think of goes back to when the Ministry of Education licensed Microsoft Publisher.  Those of us who had created documents with word processors for years had a particular mindset about what a document should look like.  When you move to a desktop publishing application, so much more control over your document is available.

You get to do new things.

I know that I’ve been just scraping the surface with the new editor.  A more formal presentation is available here.

What impresses me are the myriad of things, old and new, that appear as blocks.  Some of the features I’d incorporated via raw HTML in the past.  I feel unworthy when I see what all is available.  Look for seemingly random things in the future as I explore!  Like Drop Caps used for no apparent reason.

Oh, and the changes to my post?  Since my posts are scheduled to show up at 5am every morning, I have an entire day to write, review, and occasionally proofread.  My mistake was taking the originally document written in the new Gutenberg editor and making the change using the older editor.  Apparently, the older editor doesn’t know about and understand block and so did its best to clean things up according to the rules that it knows.

I just have to have the discipline to stay in the new editor should I decide that I need to go back and edit.  Time will make me better but I sure was scratching my head trying to figure out what was happening.

In the meantime, I’m just happily learning.  Who knows what I’ll try next.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Labour Day Weekend.  Anyone else going to the Harrow Fair? We go every year so that my wife can get her fill of banty hens.

If not, settle back and read some of these interesting blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.

Why Twitter? Response

Have you ever made someone create a blog post?  I did and Jennifer Casa-Todd responded nicely.  She started with an innocent enough question….  I think it’s probably a question that everyone would like the answer to.


That opened the door for me and a blog post inspired by her inquiry.  Read her post and you’ll understand her motive for the original question.

She’s looking for some data for her research so if you have literally 15 seconds to help her out, answer her three question survey.

I’m hoping that she shares the results; I know I’m interested.

#BIT15Reads: Joining the club and choosing a book

Last year at the Bring IT, Together Conference, a self-directed learning/discussion book talk was introduced with great success. 

Alanna King is getting a head start on the concept this year.  Using her expertise with Goodreads, she’s started the process.

I think it’s a natural progression.  Not everyone can attend and join in the discussion face to face at the conference.  But, anyone with the book and an internet connection can read and participate.  This could go world-wide – please consider sharing her initiative far and wide.  The more that are involved, the better the results and proof that our connections are so powerful.

Neil Postman Had It Right—Back in the 80’s

The year is 1987 and the location is Tel Aviv.  Peter Skillen reminisces about a conference with the theme “caution versus enthusiasm”.  In this post, Peter shares some of the thoughts from Neil Postman on the topic.

Even though the years have passed, there’s still so much common sense in Postman’s observations.

What’s changed?

Innovation and big business.  Attend any computer conference or visit any technology store.  The amount of technology available to schools and teachers back then was minuscule compared to the offerings today.  Add to it the number of people who work on commission and you have a huge intrusion into schools and school districts trying to sell the latest, greatest, and shiniest.  That’s not going to go away soon but it wouldn’t hurt to step back and question why.  If the answer is “because so and so is doing it” or “it’s the standard in business and industry” or based on a theory of questionable origin, then I’d suggest that the wheels are wobbly and need to be tightened.

Curricularize Coding? Not a New Question!

Peter must be clearing out his personal library.  In the next post, he shares evidence that good Ontario educators understood the value of programming in 1986.  Of course I was, because as a secondary school computer science teacher, that was my job.  Peter reminds us that there were elementary school teachers who understood the power as well in this scanned article from ECOO Output, an eagerly awaited publication from ECOO when it had Special Interest Groups and was more than just a conference.

His inclusion of this picture of Ontario Educational Technology leaders brought back some memories of people I’ve worked with over the years.  I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen Ron Millar wear anything but black.

Oh, and Peter also includes a nice article from the SIG-LOGO group.  I’ll confess to being completely distracted and spending quite a bit of time going through the above picture before I read that though.  Sorry, Peter.

Back-To-School 2015: Your Creative Advice

Stephen Hurley’s latest post is both a smile and a plea for help.

I find myself wearing two hats on this one. The first is the hat of an educator who has had the opportunity to witness quite a few opening days. But I’m also the father of two children who, at 8 and 6 years of age, are just beginning to negotiate their way through the formal school system. Truth be told, I find myself favouring the father hat these days.

Being a teacher and a parent is an interesting combination, and really challenging at times.  Going back to school is just the beginning.

But, with young kids, it’s a challenge for everyone.  Indeed, how do you make it an exciting and non-threatening event?

Stephen offers some suggestions and is looking for more.

Do it quick; school starts on Monday.

The smile part – I’m sure that he’s yet to experience the situation where a student / teacher conflict happens and the teacher is a friend and the student is, well your kid, and you know what she/he is capable of.

Case Method — classroom catalysts, from story to discourse and back again

You might have missed this post from Richard Fouchaux because he neglected to include the word “free” in the title.  But, make sure you give it a read.

He’s putting it out there – if you’re interested, show a little online love and follow his blog for the results.

As the return of school is nigh, it’s great to see that Ontario Educators are still learning and sharing.  Please take a few moments to click through and support these wonderful bloggers and all of the Ontario Edubloggers.  If this is the year for you to start sharing your wisdom with others, please add your blog URL in the form provided.  There’s so many good things happening.  Be a part of it!

Do’s for Student Blogging

I read this blog post this morning and really enjoyed it.  “Top 20 Do’s and Don’t’s of Blogging”.  The focus was to the professional blogger and so some of the topics may not necessarily apply for student blogging.  The other thing is that it contains a lot of don’t’s which sound a lot like rules and you know students (and teachers) when it comes to rules – they want to push to see how far they bend before they break.  Inspired by this, I thought I would take a look at putting together a list of Do’s specifically for schools.  It’s all positive!

DO – Follow the school’s acceptable use policies for social media.  This might include just using student first names and last initial or a particular tool.  No problem.  The goal is the writing after all.

DO – Use a graphic organizer to brainstorm thoughts before sitting down to actually blog.  I’m a big fan of Popplet.

DO – Use all the components of the writing process.  After all, you’re writing – Prewriting, Drafting, Revising, Editing, Publishing are all nicely done online and “pass the laptop” peer editing with elbow partners works well.

DO – Publish for others to read and comment.  Parents always enjoy the opportunity to see student work live and immediate and can comment right on the spot.  I had an advantage explained to me once by an eLearning teacher that I hadn’t thought about but it sure makes sense.  By publishing so that others could read, plagiarizing went away totally – first of all the original author might find it and secondly classmates would rat them out!

DO – Use the hashtag #comments4kids.  There really are kind souls that like to support the blogging process by adding a comment now and again.

DO – Simplify the writing process.  Depending upon student age, why use a big, full-blown word processor with every bell and whistle known to human kind unless you like the myriad of teachable moments when the question “What does this do?” comes up?  Your blogging environment may have just the right number of options for most writing!





DO – Use the writing tools that comes with your blogging platform.  As a WordPress user, I totally rely on WordPress’ assistance!  (I’m still trying to avoid writing in the passive voice…)


DO – Include images.  Not the “go to Google Images page and right-click the first one” ones though.  Discuss Creative Commons resources (including Google’s) or, even better, have students create/photograph/scan their own artwork for inclusion.  Make it theirs.

DO – Blog in other languages.  What a great way to promote a second language than to publish it in the best possible, polished format.  Don’t forget that mathematics is a wonderful second language too.

DO – Blog regularly.  I would suggest that “one and done” is just a waste of time.  Make it a regular place to publish or journal what’s happening.  A comparison of writing at the end of the year will show how the writing has matured.  Don’t forget also to create a BlogBooker so students have a record of everything in one spot.

and a bonus…

DO – Consider your back.  Instead of loading up your personal knapsack full of papers to take home for marking, do it online!  You can easily use all forms of assessment publicly on the blog or privately through your wiki or email.

What do you think?  Blogging in the classroom is positive.  What did I miss?  Add them in the comments below.