This Week in Ontario Edublogs

After a quick check to make sure this is Thursday morning and if I schedule it properly, it will come out tomorrow, here’s a sampling of the great thinking from Ontario Edubloggers.

So you’re teaching from home. How’s your back?

You know how your feet hurt when you get a new pair of shoes?

It might be that you’re experiencing different pain now as a result of teaching online from at home. I suspect that many people will be jumping in worried about teaching, worried about kids, worried about isolation, worrying about a lot of things except their own well being.

Will Gourley gives us a sense of the pain that he’s feeling in his particular work situation, along with pictures of folded clothes indicating that his desk doubles as a laundry space or that after allocating all the good spaces in their three stories to others, he’s left with this.

He offers five good suggestions for taking care of yourself and they’re all worth considering if you find yourself dealing with discomfort or outright pain these days. Or, use it as a check so that you don’t end up in that case.

What he didn’t include was taking a break and folding laundry…

Remotely Speaking

As I said during the This Week in Ontario Edublogs podcast, Melanie White could be a poster child for effectively trying to engage all students.

She’s pedagogically savvy enough to try and ensure that all students are engaged in class activities and technically savvy enough to recognize that it may take more than one strategy to reach everyone.

I love this image from The Mentoree that she includes in the post.

I really appreciated the fact that she shared how all students don’t follow the formal conventions of writing when using email. I think it’s a nice reminder that the technologies that are often available and in use are our technologies and may not be the ideal solution for a new generation.

Of course, everyone just got thrown into the middle of this; it will be interesting to see if more relevant tools emerge that are more easily embraced.

Skyscraper Puzzles – printable package

When I think back at the Mathematics that I studied (and I studied a great deal of it), there really was a focus on Algebra and Geometry. For the longest time, Geometry was really about two space and it wasn’t until the later years that we got into three space.

Ironically, though, three space was represented in two space via the blackboard.

This post, from Mark Chubb, offers up free materials that he’s made to help students with the understanding of space. They’re called Skyscraper Puzzles and a link will let you download and work with them. The resource is in PDF format.

By itself, that would be worth the read of the post. But, Mark takes it to a new level. He indicates that he had some helpers with the work. Anyone who believes in the maker concept will immediately realize that they just wouldn’t be creating materials – they’d be learning the concepts as well. As we know, you never really know something completely until you teach or make it.

Ça va prendre un chapeau d’apprenant!

Anyone teaching from at home at this time will definitely identify with this observation from Marius Bourgeoys.

The comfort zone has left the building.

Marius includes a number of observations that are hard to disagree with. Towards the end of the post, he offers 12 suggestions for checkins with students.

I found number 7 particularly interesting.

Quelles nouvelles responsabilités as-tu à la maison?

We all know that it’s not life as usual. In some cases, though, it may be substantially different for some students other than just taking their schooling online.

Mom and Dad may be essential workers and that student is picking up additional responsibilities to make sure that the family continues to thrive. I think it’s a very powerful question to ask student and could easily be a great writing prompt.

Sandie’s Music Teaching Blog

Students in K-12 are not the only ones dealing with the current reality of teaching/learning. In this post, Sandie Heckel is looking for advice from the field to give to prospective music teachers.

It’s a good advice to be sought at any time, for any subject.

I would suggest that it’s particularly relevant in these times. Many of the school re-opening plans that I’ve seen specifically name music as a subject that won’t be there when school resumes.

Those providing the advice are looking beyond that. They recognize the value of music in a child’s life and offer ways to consider your own personal growth planning.

Math at Home: Week 1

There have been a lot of memes circulating about the learning at home situation and one of the funniest was a couple of kids complaining that not only were they being schooled at home but that their mother was a math teacher.

Lots of that ran through my mind when I read this post from Lisa Corbett. Her son’s doing the math and she’s giving us a blow by blow account of how it’s going. And, they have a blackboard to do math on. Who has a blackboard at home these days? Got to be a teacher!

It’s a good accounting of what’s happening. I think there will be a big payoff when all this is over by re-reading blog posts and learning about the learning that everyone experienced. Journaling this experience is good advice for everyone. They didn’t prepare you for this at the Faculty of Education. You’re living history as it happens so why not document it.

There’s another element to this that can’t be lost. Not only is she working with her own kids schooling at home, but there’s still those from her day job that are learning at a distance too. Double-dipping.

Teachers Reminisce

This post, from Albert Fong, goes back to the beginning of March. It seems so long ago now.

Speaking of a long time ago, Albert relates a story of a youngster coming to Canada and learning to grow up in his new reality in different schools. This new reality includes fighting amongst schoolmates. That part, I could relate to. I suspect we all can.

But, what happened when an older student got involved was not something that I had ever experienced.

Albert learned from that moment and that experience and had an opportunity to apply his learning when he was a bit older.

For a Friday morning, please click through and enjoy these blog posts. There is some great inspirational reading to be enjoyed here.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Mark Chubb – @markchubb3
  • Marius Bourgeoys – @Bourmu
  • Sandie Heckel – @SandieHeckel
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Albert Fong – @albertfong

This post appears at:

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday everyone. And, it’s a 13th too. And a full moon to boot. Actually a “micro” Harvest Moon. In football, we call it “piling on”. Read about it here.

But you can tough it out.

Grab a coffee and sit back to enjoy some posts from these fabulous Ontario Edubloggers.

Minding the Children

OK, I’ll confess to be guilty of doing this.

Sharing memes in June about sending kids back to their parents or in late September about parents shipping kids back to school.

In this post, Sheila Stewart suggests that doing so is not the best of ideas.

I am also not sure if such humour does much to support working relationships and respect between teachers and parents.

I guess I never saw it much more than a bit of fun poking at our profession. I’ve never really thought of them as serious; more of a look at reality in the school year.

This Blog is not Dead it’s…

I guess I breathed a bit of a sigh of relief when Jennifer Aston indicated that she hadn’t abandoned things – she was just carrying through on promises to a family about not doing school work in July.

I don’t think it’s an unfair demand; after all, kids deserve family time which can be so difficult to find during the school year between working, after school professional learning, coaching, and so much more. Why not demand a little mom time during the summer.

I’m not surprised that many of her activities mirrored what my summers were like when my kids were younger – going to the beach, going to swimming lessons, potty training, but I drew the line at soccer. My kids were baseball/softball players! (Still are)

Read the post; many bloggers would have made this into a number of smaller posts but Jennifer throws her entire summer at us.

And, she’s promising to get back on the blogging scene again. Great!

L’ADN d’un leader

This is an interesting post from Joel McLean, again about leadership.

He talks about the DNA of a leader and ties in the 17 basic abilities identified by John Maxwell.

From the 17, Joel identifies three specifically and expands on them.

  • Ability to think
  • Creativity ability
  • Production capacity

The call to action is to question yourself, if you see yourself as a leader, about how you would increase these abilities.

I’m curious though about his use of the term DNA. To me, DNA is part of your make up and not something that you can change. (I watch a lot of Law & Order). To me, it begs the question. If these skills are truly DNA, can you actually change them? Maybe an idea for a future post, Joel?

With a little tongue in cheek, maybe blood tests replace interviews?

Exploring Classroom Expectations while using WipeBook Chart Paper

Congratulations to Joe Archer…he entered a contest and won a WipeBook Flipchart. It’s part of a series of products you can find here.

Joe talks about the product, but more importantly, talks about how he uses it with his class. For me, it’s the description of the pedagogy that is exciting.

At times, and for selfish purposes, that can be overlooked when people go product bashing.

I can’t help but think about the high profile keynote speakers a few years ago who went on a rant a few years about about Interactive Whiteboards. Like anything in the classroom, they can be used well or poorly. It’s not the product itself; it’s how it’s used. “Oh, and buy my book.”

I remember years ago in my planner having a write-on cleanable whiteboard page along with the traditional paper. In my mind, the paper was good for notes that I thought would be “permanent” whereas the erasable product was more transient in how I used it. My use mirrors somewhat the classroom activity that Joe describes.

I also like the fact that Joe uses the expression “Exploring”. It conveys a message that he’s doing his own research into the product and not just following the crowd.

A Career Marked by Change: Learning the Big Lessons in Some Small Places

Debbie Donsky takes on a new role this September and uses her blog to reflect on a career – so far anyway…

I’ll confess that I was expecting something different from her title when she made reference to “small places”. I had thought that she’d be referring to the small communities that school can be in the middle of big towns or cities. But, I was wrong.

Instead, she takes the opportunity to identify 15 Big Lessons and develops each along with a picture or two.

I could identify with most of the 15 but there were three that really resonated.

  • Be where you are – reminded me of my first trips to schools as a consultant – none of them are the same and you are most effective when you recognize that
  • Be authentic – especially with kids – they have a sixth sense when you’re faking it
  • Everyone you meet can help you – and reciprocate! Together we’re better

For more Debbie Donsky, read my interview with her here.

Goodnight, World

This is the latest review of a book from the CanLit for Little Canadians blog authored by Helen Kubiw.

I’m always astounded when I talk to Language teachers or Teacher-Librarians as to how connected and insightful they are with new books or ones that have been around for a while.

The latest reviews include:

  • Goodnight, World
  • The Starlight Claim
  • Harvey Comes Home
  • Spin

Violence in Ontario Schools

There have been a number of articles released in the traditional media about a report identifying the grown of violence in Ontario schools. Sadly, the articles are not very deep except to report their sources. Then, they move on.

On the ETFO Heart and Art Blog, Deborah Weston takes a really deep dive on this. Not only does she identify the research but she shares her insights about the issue.

She notes that there are no quick and easy solutions. In particular, she addresses a couple of the techniques often given as solutions to the problem.

Self-regulation and mindfulness strategies do help some students develop their social and emotional capacity but self-regulation and mindfulness strategies do not compensate for the myriad of causes and complex intersectionality of environmental, developmental, intellectual, social, emotional, economic, and mental health needs that may be at the root of students’ behavioural outcomes.

I would encourage all teachers to read this and look at the implications. I would also suggest that the worst thing that you could do is to ignore incidents. They need to be reported so that they can be addressed, not just in your classroom, but Ontario’s school system at large.

Like any Friday, there are always wonderful thoughts and ideas shared by Ontario Educators. Please take the time to read all seven of these terrific blog posts. You’ll be glad you did.

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

  • @sheilaspeaking
  • @mme_aston
  • @jprofNB
  • @ArcherJoe
  • @DebbieDonsky
  • @HelenKubiw
  • @dr_weston_PhD

This post originally appeared on this blog:

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It’s another Friday and certainly a special one in Ontario.  To celebrate, please take some time to read some great blog posts from around the province.  Ontario Edubloggers are always addressing big ideas.

I Genuinely Want to Know What’s Next for You, Teachers!

With a title like that, you certainly can’t help but wonder and dig into this post from Heidi Allum.  Matthew Oldridge has beat you to it and highlighted some of the points that resonated with him in this Medium post.

Who could deny this?

One of the many reasons why I love teaching is that it’s a different day every single day.

It’s the sort of thing that keeps you up at night and, at the same time, makes you eager to get into school the next day.

Heidi takes on a number of concepts from teaching Mathematics.  The three major items – Play, Visualization, and Technology are an interesting mix and make for an interesting reflection.  As I noted in the voicEd show, I like the work of Alice Aspinall and Kyle Pearce when it comes to nicely visualizing many mathematics concepts.

What’s up with Ontario’s Health Curriculum? … 10% is what’s up!

Thanks to Deborah Weston for tagging me in the announcement that she’s released this blog post.  In here, she takes a reflective look at the Health and Physical Education Curriculum, 2015.  It’s always humbling when you look back at when a previous version of the Curriculum was released – 1998.  Wow!

So, if a province is going to roll back the curriculum, are we prepared to take on something that’s now 20 years old like there has been nothing we’ve learned about teaching, human growth and development, and the challenges that students have faced since then?

Deborah has put a great deal of research into this post; she claims in a comment to putting 5 hours towards it.  She makes real references to Ontario resources throughout and they’re all listed at the end.

But, let’s face it – the real issue is about sex education and claims made during the past provincial election.  That’s where the 10% comes from.

As a real service, there’s a link in there to a document where she’s pulled out the reference to sexual health, by grade.


If the claim is that this isn’t an appropriate progression of learning, the big question would be – how would you reorder it?

How can Canadians Get Involved in Supporting our Brothers and Sisters in the Global South?

With every post from Paul McGuire, I feel more aware of big issues.  Paul has a passion for social justice and equity and it really comes through in this post.

Given the issues of the past week, his comments certainly are even more relevant.

Paul’s not just pushing ideas from his keyboard; he has walked the walk having organized student trips and experiences to the Dominican Republic.

He suggests


and offers four pillars to guide this.

  • Stewardship
  • Participation
  • Respect for excellence
  • Human Dignity

and fleshes out each.  Put on your social justice mindset and read Paul’s post.

Two Years of Farming and International Students

This was an interesting comparison from Irene Stewart and was inspired by a reflection about cheating.

There is a price to be paid for immigration to Canada and Irene shares a personal story about her father and the two years spent farming with a sponsor before being able to apply for citizenship.

Fast forward to today – she wonders if the two years that International students spend at school is the equivalent experience in 2018.  Of course, studying and living in a new country also brings up the question of balance between customs from the old country and the new.

Is the pressure to succeed the driver behind any cheating that is happening?  You can’t help but wonder if the solution doesn’t lie in the type of assessment being used.  K-12 education has had its renaissance; are there lessons there for colleges and universities?

Setting Higher Standards: High School Graduation Just Isn’t Enough

We’re proud that, in Ontario, there are three pathways for students – University, College, and the World of Work.

Is it working though?

In this post, from Jason To, he notes the graduation rate of the Toronto District School Board at 86%.  That’s an impressive rate – what’s the rate in your district?

But then what?  Are graduates really ready to make life decisions at the end of each of the pathways?  Does social responsibility end there or is there something else?  I know that my life plans changed from the end of secondary school to mid-University program.  And, I was a graduate of a 5 year program of secondary school studies.

Jason provides and reflects on some summary data about success success.  I would be interested in knowing about the success of cooperative education or Specialist High Skills Major.

This will have you thinking.

educators in schools need to understand that this shift is a response to the inequities that we see in access to post-secondary education and who is disproportionately affected by streaming structures.

ACSE Gmail Chat

As Anne Shillolo notes:

The ACSE gmail group recently erupted with dozens of wonderful discussion posts on a variety of computer science curriculum, staffing and policy ideas. It has taken me a little while to read through all the many informative and thoughtful emails. But, of course I wanted to chime in with my own views!

I’ve been following the discussions as well but kudos need to go to Anne to blog about it.

There are serious issues:

  • the influx of computer studies activities in elementary schools with no formal guidance
  • the sophistication our secondary school computer studies students want for their studies
  • qualifications that are needed to teach a formal computer studies class
  • the availability of Additional Qualification courses for teachers

Anne cuts right to the heart of the matter…

Surely it would be a good thing if the province would look at the continuum of age-appropriate computer science learning and adjust both the elementary and secondary expectations to match what is truly the reality in many schools in 2018.

It will need a serious study and effort and professional learning opportunities.  Anne self-identifies as “self-taught” and I don’t think that makes her unique.  Anyone who teaches in this area needs a reboot every now and again with how volatile the discipline is.

There are rumblings that a serious overhaul is in the works.  There are good people in the province that would be up to the challenge.  I hope that this comes through and that a long term vision and plan is created.  Along with the curriculum and professional learning to support it, of course.

A Moment To Inspire: Setting Goals

Have you got four minutes to be inspired by a great story?

Then check out this video from Joel McLean.


I hope that you’ve enjoyed your Friday morning inspiration.  Please take a few moments to click through and enjoy these posts in the entirety.

And, follow these folks on Twitter…

On Wednesday mornings, Stephen Hurley and I talk about some of these blog posts on the voicEd Radio This Week in Ontario Edublogs.  The show is rebroadcast at various times throughout the week and all of the shows are archived here.

On Saturday blogposts, I’ve been going through and digging out the past voicEd shows and blog posts to take a wander back in time.