This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I’m still saddened by the lack of Hallowe’en things in parts of the province as laid out by the Premier last week. Hallowe’en is the last fun event before Christmas and was always a day that I looked forward to as a child. Even in areas like around here where we aren’t the recipient of the mandate from him, everyone is encouraged to find alternatives.

Since it’s a Friday, I’d like to share with you some great blog posts that I read recently and would encourage you to check them out yourselves. As always, if you’re an Ontario Edublogger, let me know; I’d love to add you to the collection.


Why “Time” Matters …

If you follow Aviva Dunsiger on social media, you know that this time of year, she follows the “Snails Across the Curriculum” resource. Amidst all this, she shares a story about the importance of time and how she and her partner are reminding each other to slow down so that students have more time on task.

It’s an interesting piece of advice but I’d like to see it further extended that their classroom.

Personally, in these COVID days, I find myself rushed all the time. And for no particular reason. In normal times, I linger while grocery shopping and I impulse buy; I like to browse the aisles at the LCBO; and, as I’ll talk about later, I’ll spend all kinds of time wandering bookstores when we’re at the mall.

These days, though, there’s none of that. I’ve got the floor plans of any place I’m going in to memorized and I’m basically in and out with what I had planned to do. Nothing more or nothing less. I haven’t even experimented with a new wine.

Aviva’s post and her stories about snails have got me doing a personal reality check. Maybe it’s time to slow down a bit and think about what I’m missing while I’m in such a rush. The things we learn from snails.


Month 1: Done

For Lisa Corbett, the month of September flew past. I’m hearing the same thing from all kinds of people. With all the angst that abounds, schools are now in the second month of the educational year.

Time flies when you’re having fun!

She shares some of the ways that she plans for curriculum – on her own and with personal experiences – and some of the things that have been covered in the mathematics classroom. I was a bit surprised when she talked about the use of manipulatives; many others are finding more pen and paper ways of doing things. But, we know from past experience that there’s so much more insight that can be had with hands-on activities. Yet, it’s not life as usual with them as she describes the nightly routine that she goes through to make sure they’re disinfected for the next day.

Next up – robots from the Education Centre. I wonder how you sterilize a robot?


How are you doing? Making time to check in

As I read this post from Jennifer Casa-Todd, I was reminded of an incident in my first or second year of teaching. I was walking outside the English hallway and met one of the teachers.

Me: “How are you doing?”

Him: “Why? Do you really care?”

I don’t recall what my response was but I hope that I was nice. I shared the experience with a colleague who left me know “Oh, that’s so and so”. He’s like that.

For me, it was never like that before or since. The moment still sticks with me as a result.

I still will asked people how they’re doing when I run into them. I do kind of care.

Jennifer’s post reminds us that it’s important to do these check-ins and they’re obviously much more serious these days. She shares her thoughts about the importance of doing this and also a Google document template that you can borrow and modify to make it unique to you. It’s certain to take on more importance as more classes go online. She’ll even take you to the level of mindfulness and its importance.

I hope that it’s reciprocated and that friends and colleagues are also checking in on Jennifer.


Cataloging and Comprehending

I felt compelled to include this post from Melanie White since she mentioned me! and also came down on the side of Elizabeth Lyons and centred writing!

But, I’ll be honest; I’ve read the post probably a dozen times and I’m sure that the message that she intends still eludes me.

Despite that, there still were some takeaways for me – I now know the word “chiasmus” although I’m not sure how I’d use it – and I really like the paradox that she talks about with her Grade 12 students and

the ability to intellectually hold two contradictory ideas which can both be simultaneously true;

That pretty much sums up two party politics in a nutshell.

Maybe if I’d become a librarian, I would have had some better insights to the rest of her post!


Impact/Moments

Speaking of Elizabeth Lyons, this post outlines another cheat of hers in the “one word” for the year activity that many educators take on. She’s already diverged by insisting on “one word” per month for 2020 except for October where she’s taking on the two words in the title to the post.

And she rationalizes it nicely.

Imagine being a teacher-librarian in a school. In a normal year, you’re fully booked with classes coming in for research, book exchange, readings, technology, and teachers coming in for curriculum planning assistance.

The traditional isn’t happening this year but Elizabeth is still trying to make a similar or better impact this year. The opportunities may not be as scheduled or as planned but moments that they become available are her opportunity to make her presence known.

So, the combination makes absolute sense here.


How to be an Anti-Racist in a Bookstore

This post from Matthew Morris might have been about me. It was his observation of an older white man in a bookstore. Matthew shared his thoughts about just what this man might be.

I checked so many of the boxes.

  • blue jeans. Absolutely. I don’t know that I actually have any others anymore except for some really dressy ones for fancy occasions. Except, my wife would never iron my blue jeans
  • plaid shirt. Maybe, although since the weather is cooler these days, it’s more likely a sweatshirt but definitely something comfortable
  • grey hair and glasses – check
  • cottage – no
  • mid-size sedan – does a Ford Fusion count? Check? I bought mine used
  • football – yes; golf – not for years – a real divergent here
  • green lawn – yes, but by dumb luck; I don’t water
  • retired – check

Matthew was surprised to see this man in the “community and culture” section. That could be me. For me, book stores are a place where I can go without an agenda. It’s just a nice place to spend time and just wander aimlessly throughout just looking at book titles and covers.

The part that I think that went missing was that Matthew didn’t stop and talk with the man as it sounds like he wanted to. I can’t help but think that that was an opportunity lost for both of them.

But that would be too judgmental. I put myself in Matthew’s shoes and I could understand standing back and doing nothing.


Unpacking the Invisible White Backpack in a Time of Black Lives Matter

Matthew’s post brought back a memory of this one from Deborah Weston. I’m wondering that if my comments about Matthew’s post don’t come from within my own personal Invisible White Backpack.

My knowledge of my family tree doesn’t go back very far, nowhere near what she describes in the post. I know where three of my grandparents came from – Denmark, Germany, and Great Britain and that’s about it. It never occurred to me in my younger days to dig deeper and maybe that’s because it didn’t matter. I was born in Ontario and I like to think I fit in nicely into my community.

As Deborah’s husband notes:

 He knows that White people have more privilege and “it has always been that way.”

I found it interesting to read Deborah sharing her heritage and her understanding about appearances and fitting into society. A great takeaway from her post though are the activities and resources about the topic that she shares.


Please do take some time and read the blog posts from these great Ontario Edubloggers. There’s so much there.

Then, make sure that you’re following them on Twitter.

  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @jcasatodd
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Elizabeth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Deborah Weston – @DPAWestonPhD

This post appears on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


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

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


Why Twitter? Response

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

 

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

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

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


#BIT15Reads: Joining the club and choosing a book

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

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

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


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

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

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

What’s changed?

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


Curricularize Coding? Not a New Question!

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

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

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


Back-To-School 2015: Your Creative Advice

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

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

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

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

Stephen offers some suggestions and is looking for more.

Do it quick; school starts on Monday.

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


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

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

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


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

Pre #BIT14 Interview with Derrick Schellenberg and Brian Aspinall


Michelle Cordy (@cordym on Twitter) continued her series of interviews leading to the Bring IT, Together Conference in Niagara Falls on November 5-7, 2014.

Last night, she talked to Derrick Schellenberg (@Mr_Schellenberg) and Brian Aspinall (@mraspinall) about their sessions.  This time, the focus was on inquiry in the classroom.  Both Derrick and Brian have TLLP projects and they served as the basis for the interview.

It was a rainy, rainy night here last night and I was unable to get a good, reliable connection to watch the interview live last night.  There are parts of the interview where internet connections were definitely an issue.  I guess I don’t have a monopoly on that.  Anyway, you can enjoy the interview since it was recorded.

Look for shout outs to Royan Lee, David Fife, and James Cowper and their blogs.

Michelle’s previous interviews leading into the #BIT14 conference…

Playing with nkwiry


Brian Aspinall has done it again!

Brian is rapidly gaining fame as creating free, incredibly student friendly web resources.  The hallmark of his products are ease of signup for teachers who just create a class and the students just use the class.  No collection of student information of any kind is done and no student email is required to use the service.  Too often, concerns about student information are enough to scuttle technology in the classroom plans.  That won’t happen here.

His latest production is called nkwiry.  nkwiry is a very classroom friendly social bookmark curating service.  There are many similar services on the web but they do require some involved account creation and then a bit of work (read explaining grown up sevices to students and the frustration therein) to get started before you can enjoy some success.

Using nkwiry is as simple as the three images below.

  • teacher creates a single account for the class;
  • students are added to the class;
  • students login with the class code and begin sharing.

Brian originally created nkwiry to supplement the inquiry process in the new Social Studies curriculum.

However, as a classroom teacher, you’re not locked into just Social Studies.  Your starter classroom curation looks like this.

Of course, you can add/remove subjects or topics as needed.  Adding a link to any category looks pretty familiar if you’ve used any of the popular bookmarking services.

The only thing that appears missing at this point would be creating tags for the bookmarks.  Perhaps in an upcoming release?

It’s as functional as that.  While the big services may have more features, Brian’s design is specifically for the elementary classroom and provides “just enough” features to do the job.

My first reaction was that this has potential far beyond the single classroom.  Instead, if you’re doing a project with another school, consider adding both sets of students into your classroom.  All that’s needed is the class name and student code.  Perhaps you’re blogging or creating online presentations with another class. nkwiry easily lets you create a functional list summary of all of the participants.

If you’re looking for a simplified interface for curating resources and aren’t interested in having your students wade their way through the features of the current big services, nkwiry may be “just enough” to help you get the job done.

By way of declaration, Brian was a student of mine at the Faculty of Education.  Regardless, I am a fan of his approach to creating simplified tools for the classroom with a minimum of registration and respect for student information.  You can read an interview that I did with Brian here.

If you like what you’re seeing, make sure you check out his other products, all free and specifically written for the classroom.

And, if you are attending the Western RCAC Symposium this Thursday in London, drop by and meet Brian.  He’s presenting in the morning about how he introduces his students to coding.  Maybe we’ll find out that his students actually wrote this?

A Great Symbaloo Mix


It’s not secret that I’m a real fan of Symbaloo.  I’ve talked about it before and have a number of webmixes tied to my account.  My only challenge is writing about it and making sure that I spell it correctly.  Two Ls or Two Os?

At times, I’ll explore the public webmixes for a number of reasons.  I might add it to my own in a new tab or I’ll use it as an answer when someone asks “Can you recommend something for this…?”  I like to encourage others to create their own.  In the classroom, it’s a very functional and engaging way to direct students to appropriate and pre-selected resources.

For the well connected educator, it’s a great one stop portal to all of the things that might be happening in your classroom.  You know – your wiki, your blog, student blogs, homework helper, YouTube page, …  Anything that transports the class to where they need to be with a single click is great.

During my recent search, I came across this webmix.  http://www.symbaloo.com/mix/computerlab4  It’s a collection of lab links for Oak Grove and Valley View”

Updated this summer, you can be relatively assured that all of the links are active.

For some, this may be too much on a single screen.  For others, it might be just perfect since you’ll be directing students to one particular button during the lesson.  It’s also a good answer to the parent question “What are some websites we could use at home with our child?”

Symbaloo is free; there is an educational version here; there’s an iOS version and an Android version.

There really aren’t any excuses to give it a try!