This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Congratulations on making it to the first end of the week in September. This year, everyone is in different positions for the return to school. Some in buildings; some online. Some may have started with students already; some may still be waiting. Good thing we have a plan. Sit back and check out some greater blogging from Ontario Edubloggers.

Intentional Teacher Printable

Amy Bowker shares some advice for new teachers and wisdom for all teachers in this post. I had to smile at her chart and the year-long attitude for new teachers – Anticipation, Survival, Disillusionment, Rejuventation, Reflection, Anticipation. Thinking back to my first year of teaching and I totally concur with her observations.

The Reflection piece is great for all educators and she offers some printable for you to use.

Great advice all way around here.

Online/ Distance Learning

Jonathan So has been back to school for a bit now and shares some of his thoughts as he starts to pick up momentum. I like his setup that he shares in pictures. I can’t speak highly enough for the concept of having two monitors if you’re interested in productivity and ease of information flow.

Sound is crucial for success when communicating with others. I’ve used the microphone in my laptop and the microphone in a headset. They are both functional but you cannot beat a professional grade microphone. Jonathan uses a Blue Snowball Microphone. A good microphone helps provide a higher grade of audio which serves to engage.

I agree with the four elements that he describes in the post as key to successful teaching online. He shares some of the challenges of teaching and assessing at a distance and describes the tools that he uses. It’s a great selection.

If you’re looking for more, check out this article This Teacher’s Hack For Sharing Documents With Students Is Easy and Affordable.

The more that experienced teachers like Jonathan share, the better all that are teaching at distance will be.

My Podcast Playlist

As I would say to my friend Alfred, here’s another list I didn’t make! Laura Wheeler has caught on to using podcasts as a way to learn and to keep up to date.

In this post, she shares some very high quality podcasts that she follows and a quick review of some of the impressive shows that she’s listened to.

Laura points out that there are numerous players for podcasts; she recommends Podcast Addict.

If you’re getting into the concept of listening to podcasts or you want to enhance your current list of shows, you really can’t go wrong with her choices.

Y is for YOU and other Y’s

As Lynn Thomas weaves her way through the alphabet, she ends up on the letter Y. And, not just one word starting with Y but a bunch.

You is one of her words and her advice at this time stresses the importance of you paying attention to yourself. Your attention to personal wellbeing is so important during these times but also for those students in your charge. As any teacher will tell you, students are alway watching and listening and take their lead from you.

Yearn for yesterday was another pair of Ys that she expands on in her post. I think that so many of us feel this; even if the “yesterday” was just six months ago. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just toss the last six away. Of course, we can always dream.

Lynn takes on more words using the letter Y and shares her thoughts so click through and enjoy.

Myers Briggs personality

I’ll confess here that, when I saw this title for Amanda Potts’ post, I thought it might head in a different direction. I suspect that all of us have takes the Myers Briggs test at some point. I’m sure that I must have but I can’t remember the results.

Amanda can’t remember the results other than the letter E and takes us on a little memory of a boyfriend.

Then, there’s a switch to an article that talks about The Definition Of Hell For Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type although the link in her post takes you to The Definition Of Heaven For Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type.

But she pulls this definition –

ENTJ – Somebody is wrong, and they’re directing a large group of people! You can’t do anything about it and will have to obey whatever inefficient policies they decide to implement.

Gulp! As she notes, it’s a sign of the times.

Anti-Racist Educator Reads

Sketchnoting is a technique that I admire in others. It says as much about their learning style as it does the actual content. My inability to be able to do that myself speaks volumes about my learning style. I prefer a bulleted list that chronologically takes me through whatever I’m listening to.

In this case, Debbie Donsky sketchnotes her way through a series of podcasts from Colinda Clyne.

Self-Care for Teachers

From the TDSB Professional Library comes this very timely blog post.

Now, more than ever, teachers need self-care strategies to stay strong physically, mentally and socially. Here are some strategies and tips, drawn from the links below, for teachers to enhance their self-care during this unusual school year.

There are quick suggestions dealing with

  • Physical Self-Care
  • Mental Self-Care
  • Social Self-Care

Of course, we know all this but take a moment for yourself and review the recommendations.

Sources for the recommendations are provided for further reading.

Please do yourself some professional good and read these blog posts.

Then, make sure your’re following these educators.

  • Amy Bowker – @amyebowker
  • Jonathan So – @MrSoClassroom
  • Laura Wheeler – @wheeler_laura
  • Lynn Thomas – @THOMLYNN101
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts 
  • Debbie Donsky – @DebbieDonsky
  • TDSB Professional Library -@ProfLibraryTDSB

This post originates from:

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

Reflections from Sudbury

Thursday, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with a group of educators at an eSymposium in Sudbury.  With all that’s happening in Ontario, it could have been a griping type of event but I didn’t see any of that.  Instead, I witnessed a wonderful group of professionals interested in making Blended Learning work in their classrooms, schools, and districts.

The day started in the eDome at Cambrian College.  For me, it was a unique presentation experience.  I worked from a table in the middle of a round room with five screens around the circumference.  Data projectors mounted in the ceiling displayed simultaneously on the screens.  I started the morning with a presentation titled “So now it’s Blended Learning and BYOD and Personalized Learning and Flipped Classrooms and …” where we went from the olden days of computer labs and built a case for wireless, BYOD, and how Blended Learning fits together.

It was an awesome audience with lots of folks coming up afterwards to talk, share ideas, and get some more of my ideas.

I took the opportunity to sit in on a number of other sessions throughout the day.  The topics were so timely for a group that were ready to experiment and launch Blended Learning in their own reality.

A panel discussion (after some coffee!) related some firsthand experiences with Blended Learning and Student Success.  It was filled with great stories from the field that served as inspiration for the attendees.  Hey, this stuff actually does work.  Not only does it work but we learned how it becomes a saviour for an occasional teacher with split classes and video evidence from all grades and levels.  We even heard how the Desire to Learn Learning Management System could be used for communication with parents.

Then, we were off to individual sessions.  I elected to stay and hear Martha Walli talk about “Getting the Right Blend”.  I think that’s the question that was in many people minds.  We understand Face to Face; we understand full online eLearning; but what does a blend look like?  Martha shared some of her thoughts and gave suggestions about what might work from her experience.  She constantly used the metaphor of blenders throughout her presentation.  I thought it was nicely done, offering some safe suggestions for the beginning blender.  I was thinking that it would work well in the future to have a set of sliders to move between the two extremes with the various attributes to show how you could mix and match eLearning elements.  That might be a good idea for a project…

After lunch, we had a plenary session about the importance of Digital Citizenship.  I totally agree with the premise that it needs to be taught consistently throughout the province.  Yet, we still have content filters in place with some boards blocking this and others blocking that with no common set of rules.  I’ve long been a proponent that one course or at least one unit needs to be taught online for all students.  Perhaps that’s an initiative that eLearning Ontario could take on?  It would be well received throughout the province, I’m sure.

I was late getting to the next workshop – got in the middle of a discussion and then realized that it was a very long walk to the next location – I didn’t get the presenter’s names.  I was curious to see how they were going to teach some tricks and tips for using the Ministry LMS to a group of new teachers.  Each came with a login to the LMS and an empty shell.  They were shown how to construct news items, calendars, use the dropbox, and got the idea that there were conditional releases built into the software.  There were lots of requests for assistance but I think that most left with a solid idea of what could be done.

Finally, I ended up in a round table discussion with supervisory officers and principals.  We had a nice discussion about how Blended Learning could be used to solve some of the challenges that are faced.  Many of the topics were the same that we’ve had about the need for eLearning in the first place.  Small schools; small classes; teachers teaching outside their qualification areas; schools not offering desired courses, etc.  In many of the areas, it still seems like the Ministry’s eLearning offering offers hope for at least partial solutions.  Challenges are heavy duty – good minds are going to have to work hard to solve this one.

In between sessions, I got into some absolutely terrific discussions.  One was with the A/V guy talking about the setup in the eDome.  You need to be there to experience it.  Another discussion talked about the advantages of taking a Communication Technology global.  We talked about external collaborations, audience, … and how it could empower the students.  Another noteworthy discussion surrounded a plan to incorporate badges into an online computer science course.  I saw all the badges and heard how they’re all tied to curriculum expectations to be awarded to students as they address the expectations.  I really like the concept.  The only stumbling block was how to conditionally award the badges.  If that gets solved, I think the concept will take the LMS by storm.

It was a fabulous day.  I was so impressed with the quality of the people organizing the day.  It was second to none and those that attended had a first-rate professional learning experience.  I was proud to be part of it.  What a terrific group of educators – passionate and professional about their beliefs.