Hug an English Teacher


My mom had a plaque that was hung on the wall that said “Too late we grow smart”.  Growing up, I always thought it was something cool that she bought at a flea market but when I think now, it’s advice that makes so much sense.

In high school, I was a math nerd.  In Grade 13, I took three Mathematics, three Sciences, and grudgingly and under duress, one English.  I don’t have the report card but I do recall marks in the 80s and 90s in mathematics and science and a low 60 in English.  I’m pretty sure that, if I had the report card, there would have been an English comment to the effect “Could do so much better if he’d get off his ass and apply himself”.

It wasn’t that I didn’t take part in class – I think that I was like most normal kids – I got the impression English books were only important if they had been written by some dead guy.  Writing was important to get marks.  Every writing assignment generated the same questions….

  • how long does it have to be?
  • single or double spaced?

Good times.

At least I had the other subjects to keep my marks up.  After all, it was important to be an Ontario Scholar and get some money for university.

I got an education and life goes on.  Later, I started writing software just for the enjoyment.  They were “doors” for PCBoard software.  A friend of mine, definitely not a computer type, tried to install one on his system and failed.  His complaint to me was the lack of clear, coherent documentation.  He was right.  Writing is important so I spent some time remembering English classes and skills from the past, proofread/revised and ended up creating instructions that made sense.

I started teaching and made writing documentation a part of every computer science assignment that my students had.  I would have arguments with other computer science teachers who thought that this practice was a waste of student time.  After all, we were teaching programming.  Even the students didn’t agree with me.  I recall many times the comments “Siiir, this isn’t English class”.  (pretend it’s a diphthong to get the full effect)  I’d be forever pointing out that the actual programming isn’t the only job a computer science graduate might get.

What’s all this got to do with English teachers?

I do remember my English classes as being ones of drudgery.  But, I managed to retain at least 60% of what we were assessed.  Yesterday’s post about “Tips for Bloggers” and Edna Sackton’s 10 Tips for Reticent Bloggers“ brought back many memories.  I spent some time reflecting on what I had actually recalled.  Not bad for a math nerd.

I think of today’s English teachers and the sorts of things that they’re doing:

  • They read the classics and they read blogs – all for meaning;
  • They take Shakespeare to Twitter – and the world;
  • They teach how to do and interpret real research – not just the first page of Google;
  • They encourage editing – not some contrived exercise but via wikipedia;
  • They do group work – not just in small groups within the classrooms but with students around the world;
  • They encourage writing – not just for the teacher audience, but a larger audience through blogging;
  • They teach media appreciation – not just by watching a VCR tape from the media centre but by creating and assessing original content in the classroom.

Now, this is a subject I could really get in to.

Bless the modern English teacher.  They’re embracing a subject discipline that’s a moving target.  Go ahead – hug an English teacher.  They’re doing the things that will take our students to where they need to be.

…Doug (just another 60% blogger)

Cube Gets Groups


Late this summer, I was invited to test out the new Group feature that Cube for Teachers was incorporating into their excellent resource for Ontario Educators.  I can’t believe that it’s been almost a year since I reviewed and blogged about the initial release of the online resource.  At the time, there was a concern from a reader that the service would become pay for use and Cube for Teachers replied that they would remain free and there’s no indication that has changed.

The concept of groups really leverages the service.

It now goes beyond the original concept of a repository – now you can use the area as a collaboration space for writing teams, planning groups, NTIP, …  Rather than rehashing my thoughts, what follows below is the announcement from Cube for Teachers.

There are a lot of repositories online but this grouping feature makes the Cube for Teachers really unique.  Keep that in mind if you’re ever working on a project that requires pulling resources together.  Even if you’re not ready for that yet, it’s still a nicely organized resource for Ontario teachers.


As over 1800 teachers across the province have already discovered, Cube for Teachers allows teachers to search for, share, and save links to internet resources which will help them meet the needs of their students.

And now, Cube for Teachers has introduced a powerful new feature:  Groups. Teachers across the province can now invite other teachers to form professional learning networks (PLNs) inside Cube for Teachers.

The Group feature within Cube for Teachers can be used:

a)     to share resources
b)     to share teaching ideas
c)     for professional development
d)     as a forum for discussions on important educational topics

Reasons Why Educators Will Want to Use the Groups Feature:

1.     Ontario teachers can now connect with others throughout the province on specific topics or other areas of interest.

2.     School departments can collaborate on resources for various courses.

3.     School administrators can invite their staff to form groups for professional development.

4.     Subject Council members can share ideas, resource links and next steps.

5.     Administrators can form PLNs with other administrators.

6.     School Family representatives can support each other and share ideas.

7.     Faculties of Education instructors can establish networks for their teacher candidates to share ideas, resource links, and support each other.

8.     New teachers (NTIP) can offer support and ideas for each other.

9.     Teachers can form groups to continue collaborating after an in-service.

10.   The Groups Feature helps make Cube for Teachers the one-stop shop for Ontario teachers to collaborate!

We welcome all Ontario educators to register with Cube For Teachers and try our latest feature! Remember that The Cube is a secure community designed exclusively for Ontario teachers. Teacher can search for, share, and save links based on grade, course, subject, and expectations based on the Ontario Curriculum.

And please, spread the word!  Refer a friend. Let others know what a fabulous website www.cubeforteachers.com has become. The greater the number of teachers who register and contribute to the website, the more valuable it will be to you!