This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s another Friday and a chance to take a look at some of the recent blogging entries from Ontario Edubloggers.

Exploring By The Seat of Your Pants

There are some amazing things that can happen when you share the best of ideas and opportunities. Brenda Sherry does this in this post.

She’s been well versed in the Exploring by the Seat of your Pants project in a number of professional learning events that she’s been a part of. Recently, she actually got to bring the power of connections to a classroom in her own school.

Junior students got to participate in an interaction with a Canadian marine biologist. Along with students from many other diverse places.

When you think about the traditional guest speaker, they drop in and talk and leave. The power in this model is that it’s recorded and shared via YouTube. In this way, you can revisit the event and also use it in other years. Heck, since it’s publically available, you’re not just limited to the one that your class used.

It sounds like a wonderful learning experience happened. The big takeaway for you, reader, is how to get involved in your own classroom by bringing an expert into there. Details are included in Brenda’s post.

The Gender Gap in Technology

You can’t argue with statistics. In this post on the Heart and Art blog, Michelle Fenn sets the stage.

According to a recent report* by ICTC (the Information and Technology Information Council) Canadian women represent about 50% of the overall workforce but represent only 25% of the technology industry workforce. 

We’ve known this forever, it seems, and yet the inequities still exist. Michelle offers some good suggestions to help change things in your own school.

I think it needs to go further though. If we know that this is a problem then there should be an educational way to fix it. But, until it becomes a compulsory part of the curriculum, we’re left with good people trying their best. That pales in comparison to what can happen if it’s done systemically and supported well with a common set of tools and pedagogy.

In addition to the suggestions in the post, check out the NCWIT website for updates on their activities and for free resources.

Until the situation is formally recognized though, students will still be subjected to hit and miss approaches and cutesy little standalone professional learning activities.

Privilege Masquerading as Superiority

A secondary school teacher who is doing something about this is Tim King. This post details his efforts and observations as he takes an all-female team to the Cybertitan competition.

Tim weaves an interesting story involving both observation and action.

Some of these observations are disturbing.

– where are all the girls?

– A number of people (oddly all male)  grumbled about the all-female wildcard spot

– taking an all-female crew to this event had me constantly seeing micro-aggressions I might have otherwise missed

– we were only there because we’re a girl’s team

– as she reached for the pen a boy from another team stepped in front of her like she wasn’t there

And there’s more. You need to set aside a significant amount of time to read this post where even creating the learning environment was not supported by the school district and the students had to build their own computers.

Just Stop Using “You Guys”

My apologies, in advance, to Sue Dunlop. When I saw the title of this post, I thought it read “Youse guys” and that it was going to be a fun little post about literacy.

Instead, it’s about the expression that is used to refer to a group of people.

yes, “guys’ is a male term, not a neutral one

From the post, it’s clear that Sue has either been in a group that was addressed this way or she saw it being used in that way. Either way, it inspired her to write about it.

She offers some alternatives to use in the post.

Most importantly, it’s a reminder that our choice of words is important. It serves as a reminder to me of the importance of an objective peer coach.

This applies to writing as well. I hope that I don’t use expressions that would offend; I would hope that readers feel comfortable enough to let me know when I do; and I would hope that I would take that as an opportunity to avoid doing it again.

Dear Jordan…

One of the powerful things about blogging is that, at least for now, your thoughts will be there forever. (or until you delete it or the service goes away or … well, you get my meaning)

One of the things that Patt Olivieri will have a chance to do with her son is share this post when he’s old enough to fully appreciate it.

In education, we know all about assessment, evaluation, and data points. Our system and our jobs thrive on it. It’s one of the things that separate education workers from other workers. It’s scientific, artistic, and humanist all at the same time.

It’s not as powerful as a mother’s love for her child.

You see, my love, there is no test for all of this, no grade, no level that can ever capture the everyday, ordinary stuff that accumulates to the only stuff that can ever be measured in immeasurable ways.


If you’re a parent, you’ll be moved by this post.

When Political Penny-Pinchers Pilfer Your PD

Alanna King didn’t post this to her personal blog (at least not yet) so I kind of stumbled onto it on the Canadian School Libraries site.

It was great to see a former colleague quoted in Alanna’s post. A bit of trivia – her office had a window, mine didn’t.

There are two major topics that Alanna addresses in this post.

  • Why should teacher-librarians self-direct their professional development?
  • How should teacher-librarians find sources of professional development?

It was good to see that the Bring IT, Together Conference and #ECOOcamp made her list. It goes much further than that and you’ll find yourself tired when you read about Alanna’s endeavours and recognized that they’re all tacked on top of her day job, including writing this post.

There was another area that I thought she could have addressed more completely and, perhaps it’s in a future post, but in addition to her involvement as a participant in things, she is also a highly sought after presenter.

If you’ve ever been a presenter yourself, and what teacher hasn’t in some form, you know that the research and preparation that goes into that can be some of the best professional learning that you’ll ever do. Unlike the professional that repeats the same session over and over again, changing your topics and focus regularly keeps you from going stale.


Now, here’s something completely different from James Skidmore. It falls from a reflection on student abilities from a course that he just taught. He notes that they’re good readers but …

What they can’t do, however, or at least not do very well, is identify passages or quotations from the novel that can be used as the cornerstone for a commentary on the larger text, and then build a commentary based on that passage.

I’d never really thought about this. Now that I have, I would like to think that that is part of what I’m trying to do with these regular Friday posts. I guess it’s a bit of a confession that I try to apply this technique to blog posts which are, by design, short and typically focus on one thing. How would I make out in a larger text? I’ve never thought about it and I wonder.

James has done some research and finds that there isn’t much that has been done already. What to do? He’s going to make it a project for eCampusOntario Extend mOOC . You can read about it and there’s a link to a collaborative document in his post.

I wonder if there are any other teachers of Language that would be interested.

And that’s a wrap.

Like always, some great thinking from Ontario Educators. Please take the time to honour their efforts by clicking through and reading the original.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

This post originally appeared on:

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


This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Good morning and welcome to this weekly summary of some of the blogs that I’ve read recently from Ontario Edubloggers.  As always, these blogs will kick your brain into gear for a Friday.

Does Black History Month still hold meaning in 2019

This was an interesting post from Matthew Morris.  Last week, you’ll recall that he shared with us five suggestions for the classroom for Black History month.

Now, he’s throwing out a wondering about whether Black History Month still holds meaning.

I can’t help but think of this…

“Those Who Do Not Learn History Are Doomed To Repeat It.”

In my mind, there’s no question – the answer is a resounding yes.

It seems to me that there are two important and yet somewhat different tacts on this.  There is that element of history that everyone should know.  As Matthew notes, “Our students know about Martin and Rosa and Muhammad and Slaves.”

But there’s another element and Matthew referred to it in last week’s post.  There’s the element of history that shapes your local community.  It serves two purposes; one to understand the history of events that happened but more importantly, helps to develop an understanding of why your community is what it is today.

Finding Middle Ground

I’m really enjoying the movement behind eCampusOntario and really appreciate those that are involved and how open they are in their attempts to be “open” and to be “honest” about it.

You’ll see all of that in this post from Jessica O’Reilly.

She takes us on a tour of what she’s working with in her classroom – the concept of “Ungrading”.

I’ve read a number of blog posts about going gradeless – but they’ve typically come from the K-12 classroom.  This time, it’s post-secondary.

It’s not universally embraced and Jessica is open enough to share that with us as well.  And, now she’s sharing her plan about what to do about it.

This is a long post and I’m sure that you’ll want to read it a couple of times because there’s so much in there.

Inquiry, Social Justice, & the SDGs

When I reflect back upon my studies of society and social justice, content was largely derived from textbook, newspaper, and opinions from the teacher.  That’s about it.

Today’s connected classroom offers so much more and Shelly Vohra shares a classroom activity that exploits that.

This activity has it all – the big question, guiding questions and an opportunity for students to have a voice to prioritize their concerns.  And they’re guided in their thinking by a chocolate bar!


Shelly provides a list of driving questions that will take the students deep into thinking about United Nations Sustainable Developmental Goals.

Bookmark and share this one, folks.

Are You Caught in the Whirlwind?

If you’re in education, you undoubtedly will be in and out of whirlwinds for your entire career.  It’s the nature of the beast.  You’re always outnumbered and it requires some terrific planning on your part.

Sue Dunlop offers a suggestion for helping to deal with it.

It’s a tack that I used myself and I can vouch that it works.  It involves prioritizing things but the number one step is:

Maybe you can step away from the whirlwind for 30 minutes and create the time.

If you prioritize things (I used A-Z, 1-9), then create your time first before anything else.  I always made mine A1 and put it into my timetable as a first step in planning.  That time, to me, was sacred and couldn’t be touched.

In theory anyway – if you have a supervisor with their own schedule of things – well, I guess that’s why they put erasers on pencils!

Pitch Day 2019

Boy, this post from Noa Daniel took me back, way back, to Grade 5 and speeches.  I don’t recall any school event that caused me more stress and anxiety than speeches.

Years later, I’m comfortable presenting and talking to groups of all sizes but that speech on sweaty recipe cards in front of 30 classmates was the thing that nightmares were made of for me.  When I think about it, perhaps those recipe cards were good things.  They would have kept my arms in place rather than flinging then around while I’m talking!

Of course, we live in a completely different world these days and Noa describes an approach that she uses that is far more humane than the “you’re going to do a speech” approach!  It is also a different time.  We didn’t have the advantage of watching a video to even understand what this speech thing should be like as we were planning.  Looking back, it seemed like the goal was to talk monotone for five minutes

Not in Noa’s class.

Using the concept of the TED Talk, Noa shares how she provides opportunity for student to brainstorm significant issues of the day for her students in their graffiti board.  But it’s not then headed direct to the talk; students have a chance to make a pitch to their classmates.  It seems to me that it’s a lower stress entry point designed to make this far richer than a one shot activity.

And, if you worry about today’s kids, take a look at the topics that they’re contemplating addressing.  The kids are alright.

Plus, there’s mathematics involved.  Does it get any better or more authentic than that?

My Many Microaggressions

Diana Maliszewski click baited me into reading this post.  Generally, I get a sense of a blog post in the title shared but I had no idea what to expect this time around.  Quite frankly, the word “microaggression” was new to me.

Diana uses the post to celebrate some of her recent learning and sharing and then turns her eye back on herself.  In the busy world that she creates for herself, I don’t know that I would consider the events that she self-identifies as anything more than a slip.  Goodness knows that we have all made them.

I did find the challenge that she and Michelle Solomon had made on them interesting and made me think…

Someone called us out on our choice of visuals and examples and said that we focused too much on the negative, and not enough on positive representations.

I would suspect that it would be the sort of thing that many of us would be guilty? of.  Very often, the negative is easier to make a point if nothing other than for its shock value.  Positive representations over and over may not deliver the intended message.  I’ve got to think my way through this.  I know both Diana and Michelle and I have no doubt that, in their planning, they would both be working on an important theme and would have check and double-checked each other during their planning.

I need to think more about the term microaggression.


Pair this post from James Skidmore with the one above from Jessica O’Reilly and you can’t help but be confirmed that amazing things are happening in the open with those involved with eCampusOntario.

In this post, James talks about the structure for a new course at the University of Waterloo CI 250: TRUTH – RECONCILIATION – STORY.

The academic in me is intrigued with the openness that he shares about a new course offered this Winter.  I can’t ever remember taking a course the first time that it was offered.

I can see a 21st Century learning approach to the course … he got me thinking about tagging my learning

We think of learning as acquisition: “Look! A piece of information! Let me acquire it (ie, let me learn it) and make it my own!” I encourage students to move beyond this rather limited view and instead approach learning as an exercise in categorization.

We all know, I hope, that students learn better when they create something new as a result of their efforts.

Read James’ post in its entirety and follow the links to see how he wants this to play out.

Does your brain hurt as much as mine?  Make sure that you click through and read these interesting posts in their entirety.

Then, add these educational bloggers to your Twitter learning network.

This is part of a series of posts that happens on Friday mornings.  All of them are available here.

This post originally appeared on:

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

An Interview with Terry Greene

Terry Greene is a “Program Manager for @eCampusOntario working at the traffic circle of learning, tech, and open education.”  Terry’s online personality wavers between very serious and not so serious but he’s always interesting. Over the Christmas Break, Terry was kind enough to take some time to be interviewed.

Let’s find out more about Terry.

Doug:  First question, as always.  Do you remember when we first met (online or off) and what interested you in maintaining the connection?

Terry: We have never met IRL, but I remember following you and always taking note of the people you would boost through #FollowFridays or This Week In Ontario Edublogs. When I was included in that list myself for the first time, I swooned. Still swoon. Every time. It is a huge honour to have a blog post of mine chatted about by you and Stephen Hurley on your voicEd show. Also, I had no idea that there were times that I came across as very serious! Maybe I need to tweet more dad jokes.

Doug:  eCampusOntario has been an interesting engagement for me.  My first connection to you would have been through a mutual friend, Alana.  eCampusOntario brands itself as a “team”. Who are the team members?

Terry: Yeah it is an evolving team to be sure. I am part of the Program Manager team, which are all secondees/contract positions. These positions were always designed to be temporary. We were all extended for a second round, which comes to an end in June. Two of the PMs have already moved on actually. The band is breaking up! Peg French and I will hold down the fort for the rest of the way! Joanne Kehoe (back to McMaster) and Jenni Hayman (off to Cambrian College) have already moved on! We dubbed ourselves the PMers. I am quite confident that I will reach out to them for advice on a regular basis for the rest of my career. There is also a team of 15 or so permanent employees working away in an agile way at the head office in Toronto. There’s the leadership group, the finance team and the Creative Comms team working hard every day for Ontario’s Colleges and Universities!

Doug:  Who manages the eCampusOntario and OntarioExtend Twitter accounts?

Terry: The ecampusOntario account is run by Julia Martineau from the Creative Comms team. She tweets out in French and English and lets us know about all the exciting things eCampus is up to. The OntarioExtend Twitter account is run by me and Alan Levine. Since it’s just for one of the eCampus projects, we can kind of get away with having a little more fun with that one. Like this tweet, for example:

Doug:  Through your efforts, I’ve been able to make connections with and follow some interesting blogs from College and University instructors and professors.  They’ve most definitely taken me beyond my traditional K-12 comfort zone. Is there a list of educators who are part of this project somewhere?

Terry: Through various Ontario Extend cohorts and side projects like the 9x9x25 reflective writing challenge, we have a list of 80 blogs that currently have made 983 total posts. Some of them are inactive at the moment, but there is a whole lot of great sharing going on!

And stay tuned for a whack more to appear as we launch our Extend mOOC, which currently has about 300 participants interested in signing up. Not all of those will choose the blogging route, but we hope a fair chunk do.

Doug:  Thanks for the list. I’ll look forward to looking through it for fresh blogging content.

Throughout the project that I’ve followed from the outside, there have been a number of challenges posed and interactions through blogs on their end.  What’s the measure of success for this project?

Terry: To me, anyone who is interested in judging whether or not something is worthwhile can decide for themselves using whatever criteria they’d like. I personally deem last semester’s Ontario Extend side project, the 9x9x25 Reflective Writing Challenge a great success. It was able to produce 373 blog posts from 43 different blogs, all writing reflectively and in the open about teaching and learning, mostly in Ontario. Blog posts inspired comments which inspired further posts. Some of the blogs were team efforts, so they brought those teams together. People grew their Personal Learning Networks. Participants were ecstatic to have the honour of their posts being discussed on your radio show with Stephen Hurley, TWIOE! That’s a whole heck of a lot of great connections being made and many were by groups and people who had not been exposed to Ontario Extend before. I would have judged the effort worthwhile to get a tenth of what we got.

Doug:  Have these people actually met each other face to face?  Personally, I think that the project would be a wonderful session for the Bring IT, Together Conference.  

Terry: I really enjoy meeting face to face with people whom I’ve connected with only online. It’s kind of surreal usually. Always fun. And I’ve never been to BIT. That’s a great idea. Maybe we can round up a few people who’ve never met IRL and throw them on a panel together!

Doug:  What will happen to these blogs?  A recent post on your blog seems to indicate that things are about to change.

Terry: We will continue to syndicate blogs for anyone partaking in Ontario Extend activities, and try to drum up reasons for people to post on a regular a basis for as long as we can. I’m hoping for eternity. The post you linked to was to mark the end of the initial 9x9x25 activity. The idea was to have people make 9 posts over 9 weeks, with every post being 25 sentences at least. That came to an end, and we would like to mark the occasion by putting together a “best of” awards show on Twitter.

Doug:  Will you keep the LearningNuggets blog active?

Terry: will always be my domain to share ideas, think out loud, and just basically be my brain’s steam valve. I always seem to find a need to post something here and there. I have one cooking right now about our thoughts for running the ExtendMOOC. It’s not often you get to actually do some work with your number one hero. I get to this term. Alan Levine aka CogDog aka Open Education Subject Zero is working with us on the mOOC.

Doug:  In addition to blogging, you are also active in podcasting with “Gettin’ Air”.  I follow it on voicEd Radio but your blog indicates it’s anywhere people like to find podcasts!  As I write this, you have shared 45 shows. What’s the driving force behind this initiative?

Terry: I guess I should make it more clear that it is a voicEd Radio show! ( I am proud to be a part of that community. It began as another outlet for eCampusOntario to connect with people about how best to go about teaching and learning with openness using technology. This week’s episode featured Ryan Martin, from Queen’s, who developed an open source ed-tech tool with some of his students. And next week I am very excited to chat with Chuck Pearson (@shorterpearson) from Tusculum College in Tennessee. He is an intriguing fellow!

Doug:  What does Open Learning mean to you?  Why is it important to you?

Terry:  Open Learning is a gift. A gift for you and a gift from you if you are able. When people share their work, ideas, and the resources they’ve created, when they can, we all benefit. I am still learning more and more about open and trying to help make sure it is a force for good. I think of it like this: we all have mountains to climb in our work. Openly shared learning resources and practices can give us a free lift part of the way up towards the summit.

Doug:  That’s a pretty strong conviction and you have to believe that those that buy into it just make their community stronger.

Can K-12 learn from the eCampusOntario experience?  What would you recommend as big takeaways for them?

Terry: Whoa. tough question! I don’t think I know enough about the K12 world to comment here. Could be we’re just catching up to things y’all have been doing for years. I’ll say one thing though: We should all talk more.

Doug:  While not everyone posts their “Top 10 Lists”, everyone does have them.  Who or what would be on your Top 10 Twitter List of people to follow? Extra marks for telling us why.

Terry: Let me try top 5 and see how it goes!

  1. Alan Levine, @cogdog. You’re going to come across him eventually if you have anything to do with open and ed-tech. The most generous in a world of the very generous.
  2. Maha Bali @Bali_Maha, co-founder of Virtually Connecting, prolific and outspoken critic of anything in education that needs to hear it.
  3. Audrey Watters @audreywatters. Writes at Hack Education is going dormant for most of this year. I think that is a good thing because it means she is focussing on writing her book, Teaching Machines. Plus there are about 50 Kajillion words of hers already written. We need some time to catch up!
  4. Squad Goals Network @sqdglsntwrk. A biased choice, as I am a member of the gang. Are you too? Yes. Yes, you are. As soon as you think you want to be you are in. It’s a group of people who want to increase access to each other’s work. You’re invited.
  5. Chris Gilliard @hypervisible. I feel like keeping up to date on what Chris has to say is the best way to keep your digital wolves at bay.

Doug:  Extra Marks!  Way to go!

Since we run in different connected circles, it would be no surprise that we have different learning networks.  What’s the most unique follower that you have?

Terry: I’m going to name a unique account that I follow, that I wish followed me. @G2Institute. The Institute of Gremlins 2 Studies: World-class commentary and analysis of the film Gremlins 2: The New Batch. The silliest of premises, taken seriously. We can learn something from this technique of applying serious methods to silly things.

Doug:  What’s next for Terry Greene?  Your header says “Terry Greene just trying some ed-tech stuff, don’t mind me”

Terry: Next for me is that we are launching the ExtendmOOC! We have 299 people signed up to run through the Ontario Extend modules together in Open EdX. It will be a whole lot of sharing of pedagogical approaches and ideas. It’s not too late for others to join, too! Add your name here: and we will be in touch.

Other than that, my secondment to eCampusOntario ends in June. I’m excited to see what comes next!

Doug:  Thanks so much for taking the time over the holidays for the interview, Terry.  I appreciate it and I know readers will as well.

Terry: It was an honour and a privilege.

You can stay on top of Terry’s latest here: