This Week in Ontario Edublogs


You know, you don’t really appreciate something until you lose it. I’m feeling that this week in my loss of freedom to just go and browse my way through a store. It’s not that I do it a lot but the important part is that, in another time, I actually could if I wanted to. I just can’t now.

I did have a fulfilling moment last night. A childhood friend of mine had a crashed iPad and I was able to give her some advice and she’s back online now. My price was very affordable compared to what Apple would have charged. I got:


On to some of the great things that crossed my keyboard this week from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.


COVID-19 & Education

Shelly Vohra offers some candid advice about attempts by the Ministry of Education to promote e-learning or online learning or what you may wish to call it. She echoes some of the observations that have been talked about here and in other places. It is in stark contrast to the comments coming from some of the right-wing news sources in the province. They just don’t have a clue. The sad thing is the number of anonymous comments. I don’t reshare because I don’t believe and yet I can’t resist the urge to read the garbage that they are spewing. Like I indicated previously on this blog, you can’t equate one person with a computer from their employer and an internet connection with a teacher trying to teach a class of students with varying needs and just as many varying computer configurations. That is, of course, if the student is fortunate enough to have a computer and an internet connection.

Shelly points out, with respect to the Minstry’s assumptions that this is a good thing:

  • The first is that educators were not consulted in the creation of this ‘resource’
  • Secondly, the ‘resource’ doesn’t take into consideration the diversity in our student population
  • my third issue with such a ‘resource’ – the issue of equity.

We can’t overlook that this will be a good resource for some and certainly school districts are, or have been directed to, share on their website.

Shelly promises a followup post with some of her ideas.


How The Coronavirus Should Impact Education

Matthew Morris takes on the topic of how all this should affect education. He thinks that we’ll all play out and make the best of things in the short term. He focuses instead on the future.

So, what does happen if and when the balance of the school year is cancelled.

I did have to smile just a bit when he took on society’s perspective of Physical and Health Education. Is it a nice break from the rigours of the classroom or does it have a more important role?

And, where do report cards fit in?

This post is a nice focus on reality.


Illness, Shame and the Educator Martyr Complex

From the ETFO Heart and Art Blog, Michelle Fenn makes some observations based on the current reality and some of the realizations that can come from it.

We all have experienced the various scenarios in Michelle’s post. We have indeed dragged ourselves into work when we should have stayed at home.

We all have those emergency lesson plans that are tucked away for such an occasion and hope that we never need them.

We all know the panic of going to bed well and waking up ill. What will the kids do?

At some point, we’ve all had the experience of going into work when we really shouldn’t. As Michelle notes, we’ve made gains through collective bargaining about how to take care of ourselves. Sadly, there are employers that want to cut into this. There’s a huge difference in workplace activity between dealing with a full timetable of students who might be sick and some other professions that are nowhere near this. I still can’t get over that moronic Twitter message that I read indicating that teachers will get through COVID-19 because the experience of dealing with coughing the spreading a of germs of the classroom will help them.

Ironically, we have an entire province that has shut itself down due to a virus and those that are really worried about the impact of the lack of doing their jobs and the students they’re charged to work with are the teachers.


Exceptional Times: Using a Pandemic to Close the Digital Divide

Tim King follows up on a previous blog post where he addressed the challenges of having insufficient internet access at school for his needs with this post.

Now, he takes the concept of connectivity globally. I found his reference to the Loon project interesting. Note that this video is at least three years old.

And, of course, you’ll need a computer to attach to the network. He cites two sources; one being the unused computers at schools right now and the second being the Computers for Schools project.

I would suggest that all this is a start but won’t get us where we ultimately need to be. My internet service provider uses LTE and Satellite; it’s part of Canada’s rural solution. I had to send a warning to Stephen Hurley earlier this week that our voicEd show might be in danger when I ran a Speedtest and got this.

Image

Stephen recommends at least 2MB for success. Fortunately, it was a bit better for Wednesday morning. Had I needed the speed when I ran the test, I would have been out of luck. Imagine being a student at home relying on synchronous connections with a teacher.

The second part of the equation involves getting computers in the hands of students. One solution is to provide repurposed computers with a Linux environment and have them connect to a network with those specifications. The problem with older computers is that repairs and getting parts can be a challenge when things go wrong. I have a Dell (not exactly a generic machine) with a flashing orange light indicating that it doesn’t recognize the battery that it came with. It’s not likely that I’m going to shell out money for a new battery for this older computer.

On top of all of this, we make reference to this as a solution to those students whose families cannot afford their own technology. So, the poorer get a bandaid solution?

Despite my negative points above, a solution like this needs to be found. Traditionally, we’ve looked to public libraries as an evening solution but when they’re closed, that option is out.

Looking for a solution while living the problem really isn’t the solution. A proactive solution like hospitals have in hand needs to be in place. Smart educators like Tim should be given credit for their thoughts, along with a budget, and come up with a permanent solution should a similar situation ever arise again. And, even if it doesn’t, who wouldn’t want a solution where every student in the province has reliable access to the internet.


Being a Skillful Teacher

From the TESL Blog comes a post from Martina Finnegan that includes one of the best thinking moments for me this past while.

“Skillful teaching is the teaching that is contextually informed” (Brookfield, 2015, p. 20). We teach what we assume students should be learning in their particular situations, and sometimes this requires veering away from a syllabus and taking hold of alternate methods to help students learn what is required for their field

In today’s reality, I think of teachers that are now thrust online to continue their teaching.

I’ve been in conversation with a friend in the States that is teaching his Computer Science courses online. The connection to the student is through video conferencing from his living room to goodness knows where. I do know that one of those locations is in China.

One of my superintendents was a big believer in Management by Walking Around. Great read here. He believed that the best teachers are always walking around, looking at student progress and then let the alternate methods that Martina alludes to kick in. Educators know what the end game is and will do whatever is needed to get there.

I would hope that the best of the best meet Martina’s standards of a “Skillful Teacher”. She’s got some great references for additional reading in the post.


Neighbourhood Mending – 19/31 #SOL20

Melanie White SCREAMS

“This is not my neighbourhood!”

Why is she screaming?

She’s looking at a glossy magazine that describes her neighbourhood. The pictures that she sees in the magazine are drastically different from what she sees when she looks out the front window or around her neighbourhood.

It’s difficult to believe that this is happening in Canada in 2020. Judging by the comments to Melanie’s post, she’s not the only one who sees this and want to take action.

Letter writing to the magazine is a good start. Letter writing to those businesses that advertise in the magazine, cc: the magazine and to social media would even be more effective.


Andrea’s 2 Degrees

The Beast is back!

When I read the title, I thought it might be about a Degree in the Arts and a Degree in Education like so many teachers in province have and how could that be a post.

But I was wrong.

It’s a wonderful story about a relationship and professionalism that brings in a running kindergarten student and how grade 5 students ended up being more effective than the vice-principal in her role of authority.

Now, I’ve heard (and watched) 6 degrees of separation. I had to do a bit of research to find out just what was meant by 2 degrees. I hope that this is the context that they use in the post because I used it to understand their message.

There are specific spaces around each of us: 1. private space is the immediate space or circle – you. The next circle or microsystem is: 2. close family, friends, and peers in school, workplace, religious affiliation and neighborhood. The next circle would be the mesosystem: 3. to a lesser degree of closeness, extended family, acquaintances, and peers in school, workplace, religious affiliation and neighborhood. Circles 2. and 3. are the combined social space. Next is the exosystem, public space: 4. community, county, state, nation. The final circle, macrosystem, would represent: 5. the world. In Karinthy’s concept of six degrees of separation, a person would be six steps away from any one person in the world. This is the interconnectedness of dependent-origination. We are all connected. One degree of separation would place you solely in the inner most social circle or microsystem. This would lead you to a very select few within that social space closest to you.

When her direct message was ineffective, she turned to the connections of the 2nd degree and they were indeed able to be effective in stopping the running behaviour.

Then, in true Beast fashion, we’re witness to a discussion between Andrea and Kelly about this and their relationship.

In particular, I’m interested in this concept of a “2 degrees pilot”.


And, again, a wonderful collection of thought from Ontario Edubloggers. Please take time to click through and read the original posts.

Then, follow these people on Twitter.

  • Shelly Vohra – @raspberryberet3
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Michelle Fenn – @Toadmummy
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Martina Finnegan – @TESLOntario
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • The Beast – @thebeastedu

This post appears on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

An Interview with Sophia Mavridi


 

Sophia Mavridi is a lecturer and a teacher trainer specialising in the field of Digital Learning. She is currently teaching in UK higher education and is based in Leicester, United Kingdom.  I was happy that she took the opportunity to tell us a little bit more about herself.

 

Doug:  My first question is normally – where did we first meet but that doesn’t apply in this case.  We haven’t met in real life but certainly have interacted online. Do you remember when our paths first crossed and why you decided to follow me?

Sophia: I remember it very vividly. You took part in a research project of mine as an interview participant back in 2013. I found your insights fascinating and since then we’ve been connected on Facebook and Twitter. 

Doug:  You are part of the faculty at De Montfort University in Leicester. What courses are you currently teaching?

Sophia: I’m currently teaching Academic English and Research Skills, mainly to postgraduate students. It is very interesting. The vast majority are international students who need to acclimatise themselves to the UK higher education and learn how to do research but I may also teach British students who need to improve their writing, presentation skills, academic vocabulary etc. It depends on the semester and the institution. In the past, at a different institution, I taught educational technology to TESOL & Applied Linguistics postgraduate students, something that I also thoroughly enjoyed. 

Doug:  Recently, you announced that you will be giving a keynote address at a conference in Mexico.  That’s a long way from home! What takes you there and what will be the topic of your address?  In what language will you deliver your message?  

Sophia: I’ve been invited by the British Council to give a plenary session at BBELT 2020, which is one of the biggest conferences for English language educators in Latin America. I talked about the transformative potential of technology in education and more specifically language learning. The talk challenged the current educational paradigms that present technology as the silver bullet and talked about the dilemmas but also the pedagogical criteria that should inform our decisions. I delivered it in English as I sadly don’t speak Spanish but as I said the conference was for English language educators and all of them are fluent in English. 

You can watch it here if you want but mind you, it’s a 1-hour long talk so perhaps grab a coffee or tea 🙂 

Doug:  Thanks for sharing the link.  Nice use of the tambourine!  I thought your topic was timely as many teachers are rethinking/rationalizing approaches to their use of technology in education.  By the way, Sophia’s introduction starts at about 4:00 into the video if you wish to skip directly to it.

How did you feel that the presentation went? 

Sophia: It was a fascinating experience. I was impressed by how lively, receptive and enthusiastic Mexican teachers are. This goes for teacher trainers too as before the conference I also delivered training to about 50 British Council teacher trainers. They are so eager to learn and so positive in so many ways. I wish I could have stayed longer. The organisation of the event was excellent and it is not by accident it was attended by 1,100 delegates and sold out in November. 

Doug:  On your website, you offer a large listing of the topics that you’ve talked about.  It’s very impressive. I have a superstition I go through before I speak in front of an audience.  Do you have any superstitions?

Sophia: Really? What is it? I don’t have a superstition but I always eat chocolate. It makes me sharper and brighter. I think as educators and trainers we are used to having an audience so it’s not extremely intimidating. That said, it depends on the audience, the topic and so many other things 🙂

Doug:  My superstition?  Well, my first superintendent noted that I had a great deal of arm action when I talked to an audience.  I corrected this but still walk around for about 10-15 minutes before a presentation with my hands in my pockets just to remind me…

Recently, you announced that you will be releasing a book “Digital Innovations and Research in Language Learning”.  Congratulations. Can you tell us a bit about the book and who your target audience would be?

book1Sophia: I’m really proud of this publication. It is a collection of 12 research chapters that explore the pedagogical potential of new learning technologies in language education contexts. Topics include technology-mediated task-based learning, virtual schooling, game-based learning, digital responsibility & ethics and many more. The research studies are from a range of different places from around the world – from the UK, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and Israel to Japan, Australia, Chile, Thailand, and Uruguay – and thus it gives voice to different contexts and diverse perspectives.  It is for any educator interested in approaching technology from an informed pedagogical perspective, ideally for language practitioners, teacher educators, researchers and administrators.

Doug:  Another upcoming publication with your name is titled “English for 21st Century Skills”.  Can you tell us a bit about that book?

Sophia: This is another amazing project I’ve had the privilege of being involved in. The book is concerned with the development and integration of 21st centurBook2y skills which I think is a challenge for all educators, not just language teachers. Our students, more than ever before, need the competencies, skills and values to live and work in a globalised and interconnected world and be able to generate innovative ideas, solve problems and implement solutions. We believe that this can be achieved through pedagogies that explore how creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, inclusion, wellbeing, leadership and other key new literacies can be developed along with subject knowledge, which in our case, as language educators, is English. I believe, however, that any educator, who wants to keep up to date with this increasingly important field will find it interesting.

Doug:  If someone was interested in purchasing either of these resources, where would they go?  Amazon?

Sophia: Yes, the research publication is already available on Amazon and can be found here. The ‘English for 21st Century Skills’ will be available on the publisher’s website from April 2020 onwards and in bookshops of course.

Doug:  Through Vicky Loras, I’ve been exposed to a whole group of educators involved with language learning and you’re so often in the middle of things (and the pictures).  It wouldn’t be education if it wasn’t full of acronyms that are new to me. BETT, BBELT, NATESOL, IATEFL. I’d need a roadmap to follow all these. Can you name an organization or two that Canadian educators should stand up and pay attention to?

Sophia: That’s true haha, so many acronyms. For a Canadian, I would recommend  IATEFL which is the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language. The headquarters is based in the UK but the association is really international. BETT is not an association and is not solely for language educators. It stands for British Educational Training and Technology and it is an annual conference and exhibition organised every January in London. It is for any educator and policymaker interested in educational technology and it is a not-to-be-missed annual event. You can watch the #BETT2020 highlights here. I delivered a keynote at this year’s conference. Can you spot me in the video? 😉

Doug:  I did!  You’re at the 0:39 second mark!

A common thread to what you’ve been talking about recently seems to be Digital Distractions.  Do you have an answer for those who observe students suffering from this?  

Sophia: I feel passionate about this topic as I do about anything that falls under the umbrella of digital literacies, responsibilities and ethics. Technology has given us unparalleled opportunities but it is also chronically distracting us. We can’t afford to ignore this issue any longer as it interferes with learning, social life and wellbeing. We need to find ways to help students to manage their distractions and these ways need to be informed and systematic. Banning the devices is just a reactive approach. It is not a solution. I give guest lectures to students at the university where I work and I also speak about this when I train teachers and when I speak at conferences trying to raise awareness of the issue. My BETT keynote was on this and you can watch it here if interested. I don’t have all the answers but it is rewarding to know that students and teachers find my seminars useful. I’m currently involved in research projects on this so hopefully, I’ll be able to say much more soon.

Doug:  I really like your use of the term “Digital Resident”.  You seem to weave the concept nicely through all your talks.

When I look at your Facebook statistics, you and I have 91 mutual friends.  I find that pretty amazing since we live an ocean apart. Do you think that this speaks to the need for a connected reality for today’s educator?

Sophia: Yes, it does. We can learn so much from one another. On a personal level, being a connected educator has shaped my career and life in many ways. And I find that the benefits can extend beyond the teacher to the students as well. It often creates teacher inspiration and this can spread to students and make them feel more engaged. 

Doug:  Originally from Greece, you now work in the United Kingdom and are fluent in both the Greek and English languages.  Do you speak any other languages?

Sophia: I speak French as well but nowhere near my Greek or English. I would like to refresh my French and learn Spanish and Italian, hopefully soon, when I have more spare time available.

Doug:  I know, from our interactions, that you’re a dog lover.  That’s a good quality in any person! Can you tell us a bit about Hector?

hector1Sophia: Aww my little boy. I’ve had him since he was a two-month puppy. He’s smart, affectionate and absolutely adorable. He brings joy to my life and I love waking up to his smiley face and wagging tail. He always does silly and funny things that make me smile, even when I am troubled. That said, he’s not an easy dog. He has a strong personality and he can be stubborn and naughty. But he’s so charming that he always gets away with it.

Doug:  One of the things that strikes me about your group is how you travel widely in Europe.  Now that the United Kingdom has left the European Union, will this change things for you?

Sophia: I hope it won’t but the truth is nobody knows yet, we just have to wait and see. On a personal level, I still have a European passport so technically I will still be able to travel, work and live in other European countries. And I’m already settled in the UK so I don’t think things will change for me in this respect. That said, it may have an impact on my British and European colleagues who would like to live and work elsewhere in Europe or come here. That would be unfortunate. What I really love about the UK is how multicultural and diverse it is. If this changes then it may not be the place I love to call home.

hector2

Doug:  Can you tell us a couple of interesting things about Sophia Mavridi that we don’t know?

Sophia: You may already know that I travel quite a lot for work. What you may not know is that I always spend my holidays in Greece, preferably by the sea. Nothing relaxes my body and soul more than being next to the sea. Hector enjoys the sea breeze too but he is not so keen on the water 😉 Here we are on holiday in Naxos island.

Doug:  Thank you so much for taking the time from a very busy schedule to tell us a bit more about yourself.  

Sophia: It was lovely talking to you, Doug. Thank you so much for inviting me!

You can follow Sophia on social media:

Periodically, I interview interesting people like Sophia for this blog.  You can check out all of the interviews here https://dougpete.wordpress.com/interviews.

voicEd at OLA Superconference #OLASC


First off …

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

  • Greater Essex County
  • Near North
  • Limestone
  • Upper Canada

Details here.


Later this morning at 9:15, like most Wednesday mornings, I will be on voicEd Radio with Stephen Hurley for “This Week in Ontario Edublogs”. All of the previous shows have been saved as Podcasts and are available here.

Normally, I’m in my office area and Stephen is in “The Cave”, an area in the lower level of his house. This will be different since Stephen will be, yes live as per our normal, but from the convention floor of the OLA Superconference.

I’m jealous. If you’ve never been to the OLA Superconference, you’re missing something huge and extra special. I’ve presented there twice – once many, many years ago with Doris Schroeder on the topic of using Hyperstudio in the Library. It was cutting edge at the time and, if you put it onto a timeline, it certainly pre-dates this blog. The other presentation was with Zoe Branigan-Pipe and a couple of teams in The Great OSLA Faceoff, an OSLA Spotlight session. That was during the course of this blog and, of course, I wrote about it!

On our show, we’ve been honoured to have featured blog posts from teacher-librarians in the mix of great writing from Ontario Educators.

I’ve also had the opportunity to interview some of them for this blog. (Click the links above for each) And, of course, Carol Koechin and the UWO Education Library.

So, Stephen will be in the heart of the action with voicEd Radio being there giving teacher-librarians, educators, school library professionals and other librarians the opportunity to share their voice. Beyond that, Stephen is there to accept The OLA Media and Communications Award. That’s such a great honour to recognize everything that he’s done to present libraries and librarians in a constructive light, breaking down stereotypical images often associated with the profession.

It’s not Stephen’s first visit to the conference.  He was there live last year as well.

And, we’re going to do our show in the midst of all this. We’ll be featuring blog posts from these great Ontario Edubloggers.

  • Melanie White – @White Room Radio
  • Joan Vinall-Cox – @joanvinallcox
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Joel Mclean – @jprofnb
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL

All this with a guest host – Diana Maliszewski on site with Stephen. It should be a good show and lots of fun.

I hope that you can listen live or later via the podcast. And, if you’re at the OLA Superconference, grab a chair and join Diana and Stephen and chip in live.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


First off …

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

  • Bluewater District School Board
  • District School Board Ontario North East

Details here.

Despite the situation in the province with respect to collective bargaining, Ontario Educators continue their professional reflection on their own blogs.


And the journey expands…

Congratulations to Beth Lyons

As I have received news that I was successful in my bid to become the Vice President/ President Elect of the OSLA Council for 2020-2021 years, I think this is a great time to reflect on my journey thus far…

To celebrate, Beth takes the opportunity to reflect on her own professional growth as a teacher-librarian. What impresses me about this look back is just how diverse a background is required for a teacher-librarian in order to carry out the role in the year 2020.

I think that many of us read quite a bit but we’re guided by our own interests and pressures. Beth reinforces the notion that a teacher-librarian must read and understand for everyone in their charge. Follow any teacher-librarian and you’ll notice the same thing.

But learning doesn’t stop there for a contemporary leader. This post touches many bases – podcasting, presenting, action research, and more.


Students’ Research Going Beyond Their Own Classroom With Minecraft EE

On the Fair Chance Learning blog, Ryan Magill shares some work dealing with Minecraft and his students. For those who are concerned that it could be a big free for all, you need to read and understand all of the content of this post.

The focus here was driven by a unit of study dealing with animals and habitats and brought in the notion of zoos and aquariums. What an opportunity – design your own zoo!

I had to smile. This country boy knew all kinds of things about cows at an early age! But, it’s not safe to assume that everyone had that chance. Maybe they do have to do some research and build an exhibit for their zoo!

I think that the big takeaway for all is that you need to avoid boxing yourself into a corner with technology. With a playground like Minecraft, the sky really is the limit.


frozen solid; warmth in the lines

This post, from Heather Swail, could best be described as “prelude to a strike”. It was written just before a work action and is very philosophical about education and the role of the teacher.

In education, the essence of pedagogy, teachers are taught and encouraged to be flexible, to change plans mid-stream when the lesson is just not working, to moderate voice, stance, position when dealing with a nervous or reluctant child, to try to understand behaviour, resistance, background and underlying issues. A good teacher is fluid all of the time. 

Heather launches into a story that reflects the reality for many teachers. I have no doubt that just about any teacher could write and reflect on the same topics; what makes this so powerful comes from the eloquence and passion from Heather.

She closes by indicating that this will likely be the last year of a career for her. It truly is sad that she’s going through this; I think everyone would like to think they’re going to finish a career with the best year ever.


Are we willing to lose a bit of control?

I love this post from Paul McGuire. He was inspired to write as a result of a Dean Shareski blog post “I Don’t Think I’m an EdTech Guy Anymore.” I had read Dean’s post and grew angrier as I read it. I just hope that he had his tongue in cheek as he wrote it.

Substitute any subject area for “EdTech” and you’ll see the folly.

This, coming from someone whose title was, “Computers in the Classroom Teacher Consultant”. The role was framed for me by my first superintendent. I still remember his thoughts.

“I don’t want you to just learn more technical stuff. I can hire someone for half your salary with a better technical background. I need you to help people learn how to teach with technology.”

He was right, of course.

Learning new technical things was, and remains, my little side gig. And, I’ll be honest; I love it. But we’re in the teaching profession and teaching should be at the heart of everything we do.

I probably became more of a nuisance to my Teacher Consultant colleagues as I was expected to learn about good teaching and good learning throughout all curriculum areas and all grades.

Paul’s post illustrates what happens when technology is still viewed as something extra, something special, something so that you can say “I used technology today” …

Earlier this week I observed a student teacher going through a lesson with some grade 9 students. The lesson did have technology – there were Youtube videos and digital media involved in the presentation. What was missing was any level of engagement with the students. The information was conveyed using a very traditional lecture style, the students were the passive receptors of the information.

I still remember the advice from my superintendent which made so much sense to me and still drives my thinking unlike unproven schemes like SAMR.

With technology, you can…

  1. do things differently
  2. do different things

The first step, I would suggest, is where this student teacher is. And, you can’t blame that student since he/she has been in the education system for 16 or 17 years. The challenge for her/him and indeed for the teachers at the Faculty is to move to the second step. It’s not an easy step for some.


All These Certified Teachers

Everyone has a story about how they got into education and became teachers. In this post, Matthew Morris talks about his story. His was a route that I would not have been able to do.

He was good enough as a football player to get a university scholarship and he was thinking NFL. When that didn’t work out…

When I realized the professional athlete route was a wrap, I started to think about “careers”. Teaching was my back up plan. I settled on that path during my senior year of university

My personal first plan was to be independently wealthy and, when that didn’t work out, I went to university. Unlike Matthew, I didn’t have the luxury of staying with my parents but was able to rent a room with a friend for the 8 months at the Faculty. I don’t recall the cost of tuition at the time but I’m positive it wasn’t anywhere close to the six thousand that Matthew quotes.

He offers an interesting proposal for improving the profession and that is “lowering” teacher credentialing. I read it as the cost to become a teacher.

It’s not just the process of becoming a teacher that is expensive after Grade 12. The whole cost of university can be limiting to some. Are people limited in career paths like the story that Matthew shares?


A problem of zero

I love a good mathematics story and there’s a great one in this post from Melissa Dean.

Visit her post to see the graphic there. As she notes, it leads to some interesting discussions about

  • what’s a rational number?
  • what’s an irrational number?
  • Are there ‘fake’ numbers?
  • what are those weird symbols about?
  • Why isn’t zero a natural number?

I had to smile at the observation made as a result of the discussion.

Zero is not a number

How would you handle such an assertion?


4:45

I think Aviva Dunsiger and I are kindred souls. At least in terms of being active in the morning! As you know, my daily blog post appears at 5:00. It’s not that I’m writing at that time but I am connected and reading and it’s nice to get a notification that the post scheduled for that time has indeed gone live. If I ever mess up, Aviva is there to let me know. (and it’s happened more than once)

I can imagine that this would be a difficult post for her to write, first at an emotional level and secondly when you’re putting yourself out there via her popular blog.

As we know, ETFO members are currently involved with a work action and Aviva has had her schedule interrupted as a result. When you’re up at 4:45, it should come as no surprise that she’s into school working at setting things up for the upcoming day.

In the post, she describes a typical day and

I am always at school between 6:45 and 6:50

It’s interesting to picture her setting up for the day. As an Early Years’ teacher, I can only imagine how much preparation goes into making sure that all the areas are ready to go.

There are a couple of lessons here…

  • first of all, to the federations, there is a lesson about how their members are affected when rules are applied to everyone
  • secondly, to parents and the general public, quality learning doesn’t happen by accident. All teachers have their own planning and implementation of lessons each and every day. It doesn’t happen by magic

Aviva has lots of friends and supporters – when you visit the blog post, also make sure that you check out the replies to her post.


Please keep you colleagues who are on strike today in your mind.

And, also think of the professionalism of these bloggers. Follow them on Twitter.

  • @mrslyonslibrary
  • @mrmagill1
  • @hbswail
  • @mcguirp
  • @callmemrmorris
  • @Dean_of_math
  • @avivaloca

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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.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Probably TMI, but I wore long pants and a sweat shirt for the dog walk this morning. It was so cool out there at the beginning (10 degrees) but it sure helped to work up a sweat.

For a Friday morning, here’s a look around the province at great content provided by Ontario Edubloggers.


Your Students Should Nap (and so should you)

Congratulations to Andrew Campbell for being recognized as one of the Top Canadian Educational Blogs. It says so on the link behind the badge on his landing page.

So, what does a high quality blog feature in its quest for cutting edge comments about education.

Napping.

The scientific research is clear that napping is good for us. A study showed that 10-12 year olds that took a midday nap had greater happiness, self-control, and grit; fewer behavioral problems; and higher IQ than students who didn’t.

And maybe a better command of buzzwords?

It won’t be the first study that goes ignored but it does beg a few questions.

  • If schools are struggling to get 40 desks into a classroom, where will they find the same number of cots?
  • If the kids nap, I’d want to too. We had a couch in the Business Department work area that we could flip a coin for
  • Who’s going to supervise the kids lest you have a sleepwalker?
  • Can you imagine the bad breath after wakey wakey time? Rush to the washrooms to brush?
  • Are we getting paid for this?
  • Who is going to break the news to the Ministry and the Government that this is a good idea? Or, in terms of public policy, the right wing newspapers?
  • Who would be the experts in this field? Maybe a daycare worker from down the street?

There is no STEM

I wonder how Tim King feels about STEAM then?

That’s been a hot item in education for the past few years. Keynote speakers, government grants here and there have all promoted the importance of the concept. Yet, as Tim notes in the post, there is no co-ordinated effort to make it a “thing” across the province.

Because, he notes, if it was a “thing” there would be funding, a curriculum, and recognition by universities and colleges.

Sadly, it could be taken as a slam to people that are trying their best to make it something (and some are doing great things) but it’s yet to rise to the standard of a curricular thing. The concept most certainly has value but, unlike other curriculum areas, it remains like a pickup game of baseball in elementary schools and an option in secondary schools.

It’s a shame that this pointless acronym has thrown a blanket over the grossly neglected curriculums of technology and engineering, while giving even more attention to two of the Disney princesses of academia.  To be honest with you, I think technology and engineering would be just where it is now had this STEM focus never happened, which tells you something about how this ed-fad has gone down.


The Gift of Staying Connected – Thanks Andrew and Diana

This is a heart-warming story from Diana Maliszewski about connections with students who have since graduated.

There are so many takeaways to this story other than the wonderful remembrances that Diana shares. (We now know the secret to her yearbook)

It’s a reminder that connections are constantly being made and are remembered long after graduations. Can you go back to your hometown without taking a drive past your old school or university and have fond memories flow?

For non educators who view teaching as just an assembly line for students, they need to read and see the empathy and connections made here and how Diana chose to share them with us.

And for kids – it’s just not you having memories of your teacher – it works both ways.


Three lessons on Grit and Resilience

This is another very thoughtful post from Jennifer Casa-Todd although she actually provides us with four lessons. A couple of them are kind of close so we’ll cut her some slack.

The biggest head nod that I gave Jennifer’s post was actually in her first lesson:

 Success is more likely when you work in manageable chunks

As a programmer, I set out a plan to do this, then this, then this, then this, and then put it all together. I always visualize a project as the sum of its parts. I’m not sure that I could do a more big idea approach without considering the sub-components.

It was always the way that things went in my Computer Science classes. It was easier for students to solve a problem if they worked in chunks. It also allowed them to get partial marks even if they couldn’t solve the big problem. When you’re walking around the room and asked for assistance, it was also easier to see and understand than looking at pages and pages of spaghetti code.

If there’s one piece of advice that people would be wise to consider, it’s this one. The other three are pretty good too!


HOW TO START THE SCHOOL YEAR OFF RIGHT

You know, if you could bottle that and sell it to teachers, you’d be a millionaire. Fortunately, there are all kinds of bits of wisdom about this.

This post is Kyle Pearce’s attempt at advice specifically for the mathematics classroom. I really like his ideas and concepts.

There are a couple of points that appear as statements that I think deserve to be fleshed out in greater detail.

Change their beliefs about math

Unfortunately, I see an underlying assumption here. While there are many students that don’t like mathematics, how about the kid like me that loved doing it? What would my belief change to? More importantly, just how would someone go about this – and doing so without dissing previous teachers in the process?

I’ve always wondered about the “beliefs about math” and wonder if it differs in grades 3, 6, 9 in Ontario over the other grades because of the impending year of preparing for the test. I think that would make for a great research study.

Establish expectations by painting a picture of what math class will look like

I’m curious about this one too – will all classes look the same? Will they all be functionally the same? Do you address homework while painting this picture?


“The More Strategies, the Better?”

There were three things that stood out to me in Mark Chubb’s post. He does use mathematics and a specific example for his purpose in the post.

  1. Is there value in knowing more than one way to solve a problem? I’d guess that the experienced mathematics teacher would argue yes until they’re blue in the face
  2. Mark does make reference to strategies that are “early understanding” versus those that are “sophisticated”. How does a student appreciate this? Does “sophisticated” equate to being more difficult? I had a university professor who just exuded a love for mathematics and the only word that I could think of for what he did when solving a problem was “elegance”. How do you get students so learned that their solutions become elegant?
  3. I really like the fact that Mark includes this in his post.
    “Have discussions with other math educators about the math you teach”
    Do you do that or do you just assume that you’re the teacher and there’s no room to grow and learn?

This is a wonderful post for anyone to read and understand. I can’t help but think of the teacher who is teaching mathematics for the first time. How do you bring them along and witness the wisdom and insights of experiences teachers?


Taking Old Town Road to School

Search YouTube for “Old Town Road” and sit back to see the many versions – live, karaoke, parode, etc. of the song.

Here’s another idea that’s also a great lesson for the classroom.

Then, check out the tags from this post from the Association for Media Literacy.

21st Century Literacies, association for media literacy, audience, codes and conventions, lil nas x, media literacy education, neil andersen, old town road

The post gives a wonderful lesson about how to take an original work and remix it so that it’s yours and address so many things along the way!

Need the lyrics – click here.

This whole activity just sounds like a whack of fun.


Your call to action this Friday morning —

  1. Read and enjoy the original posts
  2. Follow these bloggers on Twitter
    1. @acampbell99
    2. @mechsymp
    3. @MzMollyTL
    4. @jcasatodd
    5. @MathletePearce
    6. @MarkChubb3
    7. @A_M_L_

This post originally appeared on

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

Planning and sharing


I received the following notification from Russell Gordon yesterday.

He tagged me in the message so I’m passing it along.

It’s a tried and true technique and Russell offers completed maps for courses that he’s taught already.

Of course, if your course isn’t one of the above, you either create your own or collaborate with others.

In a teaching world where things aren’t getting easier, it’s great to see someone sharing their efforts for the benefit of others.