This Week in Ontario Edublogs

It would be hard to start this post and not talk about snow. It’s been a heavy week around, especially for a November. Buses were even cancelled one day and, in typical Essex County fashion, the main roads were dry by noon.

It’s time to share some of the great posts I read recently from Ontario Edubloggers. And, by the way, if you’re in Ontario and blogging or know of someone who is, please add it to the form that’s there to collect for the purpose of growing the list. Or, directly here.

Did you get your flu shot yet?

Your public service notice this fall from the Heart and Art Blog and Deb Weston. It’s personal for her.

In 2009, my students invited their classmates to a birthday party. One of the students had the H1N1 flu virus. In a class of 24 students, 18 students missed a week of class due to this flu. Their teacher, me, was then hit with the flu. I missed 4 days of work. I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Upon hearing I was diagnosed with H1N1, my partner got his flu shot and slept in another room until I was well. The flu compromised my immune system and months later I contracted Whooping Cough.

It’s hard to believe that, despite the facts, we have this conversation every year.

Since you can get it at a pharmacy now, there’s no “waiting for a doctor” excuse any more. Just do it.

I’ve got mine.

He talks about me at home

There was a time when student-led conferencing was solely an elementary school thing it seems. So, it was with real interest to read that Amanda Potts had mom and a family of three show up for parent/teacher interview – two students that she taught.

From a reading perspective, I found myself bouncing back and forth with empathy from teacher to student who had just been outed that “he talks about me at home”.

From an education perspective, I thought that it was a real winner that this parents wanted to talk about the choice of reading that was selected for this class. I don’t imagine that happens a lot.

The timing of reading this post and an invitation to listed to a new podcast from Amanda and Melanie White made it full circle here. I enjoyed both.

You can read more about this podcast on Amanda’s blog as well.

A Stitch in Time

I knew about much of this from Colleen Rose through private conversations. She wasn’t going to be going back to the classroom to start the fall semester after having had a great summer.

Colleen goes very public with details, including a TMI warning in this post.

I think that it’s cool that she’s turning the whole thing into a learning event – how much more “teacher” can you get than that. In this case, it’s teaching herself to knit. Kudos for doing that.

What impressed me about this post is that there’s a common thread running through it – yes, it’s pure Colleen, but there’s technology everywhere. Mapping a trail, taking pictures (lots of them), medical technology, Dr. Google, listening to podcasts, and YouTube tutorials for learning her new skills. Way to go, Colleen.

The post even includes a shoutout to her union for taking care of things for her.

Parlons Minecraft BIT2019

Jennifer Aston delivers an interesting post about a session that she and her daughter delivered at the recent Bring IT, Together Conference about how Minecraft has found its way into her French classroom.

Her slidedeck, which she freely shares is here:

Unlike many of the sessions that I attended where the slides were filled with text and drawings, etc., so that the speaker becomes redundant, Jennifer recognizes that she’s very visual in presentation and that the slides, by themselves, doesn’t really tell you what’s happening.

So, she clumps her slides together with speaking notes so that we can follow and understand the message.

Nicely done and it’s great to know that the practice of ensuring that presentations in both Ontario’s official languages are still offered.


Matthew Morris doesn’t give detentions. That’s interesting. Maybe he doesn’t need to? Or maybe he’s got another way of handling the things that detentions would claim to solve?

What I found interesting was his note that he’s asked by students “do you give detentions?”. Even that question speaks volumes that the students are coming from a school culture that includes them.

I can’t recall giving them out. In fact, we were specifically told not to since most of our students were bused to school and after school detaining would open a can of worms. I remember noting that there were still lots of after school sports, clubs, and activities. But, as a new teacher, I wanted to follow the rules.

This ran through my mind after reading Matthew’s post

beatings will continue until morale improves

If the goal of detentions is to improve things, maybe there’s a better way to reach that goal.

Secret Truths of Empathy While Learning to Advocate

Hmmm. Thanks to this post from Ruthie Sloan, the secrets are now revealed!

The big takeaway, if you need it is that

empathy is not sympathy

It certainly isn’t accumulating the number of check boxes on a student IEP either.

What might happen if we began our meetings and our journey with deep and genuine curiosity (beyond check boxes on IEPs but about the ‘whole-child’ and those who are also learning how to support)? How might this affect our capacity to cultivate empathy? What might it do to our filters and translations?

If we truly believe in working with the “whole-child”, then a more global approach is essential. Ruthie uses the term “moral imperative”.

I can’t help but think that the suggested approach would be deemed to be too inefficient and not cost worthy in the eye of the bean counters. Plus, with cutbacks in support…

I think you can fill in the details.

Community Archives and Identity

This is actually a very short message informing us about a presentation that Krista McCracken is delivering to an Algoma sociology class.

Slides are available here.

Unlike Jennifer’s approach of not including speaker notes, Krista does have speaking notes to go along with each slide.

Of course, looking through a slidedeck isn’t the same as being there but this was intriguingly interesting and I used a search engine to find out more about the Archives talked about in the slideshow.

Please take the time to click through and enjoy the original blog posts. As always, there’s some great sharing going on.

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

  • @dr_weston_Phd
  • @Ahpotts
  • @ColleenKR
  • @mme_aston
  • @callmemrmorris
  • @Roosloan
  • @kristamccracken

This post appeared at:

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

An Interview with Michelle Lagos De Javier

Doug:  Through my association with the Computer Science Teachers’ Association (CSTA), I’ve had the opportunity to meet Michelle Lagos.  Michelle is a Computer Science teacher at the American School of Tegucigalpa (AST) in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. We last caught up at the CSTA Conference in Omaha last summer and I made a mental note at the time – I’ve got to interview Michelle for the blog.  She’d be great!

Here goes…

Doug:  My first question, as always, can you remember when we first met?

Michelle: I think we met for the first time at the CSTA conference in Irvine, California in 2012 if I am not mistaken.

Doug:  OK, I’ve got to know.  Going from Tegucigalpa to a CSTA Conference in the United States has to be a major undertaking, no matter who you are.  Why do you do it?

Michelle: I love teaching Computer Science (CS), but in my country it can become a lonely endeavor. There are not many organizations that I can belong to that are for CS teachers. Plus working at an American School we teach based on US standards and curriculum so it matches my work. CSTA has developed into my community throughout the years.

Doug:  For me, getting to Omaha as an international traveller was actually fairly easy.  I crossed into the USA at the Ambassador Bridge into Detroit, cleared Customs, and then drove along I-94 to Detroit Metro Airport and took a direct flight on Delta to Omaha.  How does one get from Honduras to Omaha? Where did you clear US Customs?

Michelle: Well, in Tegucigalpa (my home town), we don’t have an abundant number of flights so the choices are quite limited. For the Omaha trip in particular I flew into the US and cleared customs in Miami, FL and came back home through an overnight connection through Houston, TX. Getting anywhere besides Miami, Houston or Atlanta requires at least one connection, usually arriving around midnight to my final destination, and coming back I usually have to sleep in one of these cities.

Doug:  How do you feel about flying alone?

Michelle: I have been getting used to it although I prefer flying with company, especially my husband. But now I know that if I travel anywhere for CSTA I will get to see good friends wherever I go so that makes it exciting.

Doug:  Tell us about your school.  The pictures from the website look outstanding. (AST)

Michelle: My school is amazing!! It was founded 72 years ago. We are an American School accredited to grant a US high school diploma by AdvancEd; we are an IB school granting an IB diploma and granting a Honduran baccalaureate secondary school degree. We are a Nursery – 12 school. The working environment is great and we are always looking for ways to innovate and prepare our students in the best possible way for college.

Doug:  On Wikipedia, AST lists three former Honduran Presidents as alumni.  That’s impressive. Did they take Computer Science?

Michelle: Yes, we have alumni that have been very successful in different areas including being President of the country. I assume they had a computer application course or an elective advanced computer class.

Doug:  Obviously, the tie that binds us is Computer Science.  You have a wonderful insight into the profession here.
Can you tell us about your computer and Computer Science program at the school?

Michelle: Our Computer Science program starts in Pre-K and goes all the way to 12th grade. Our Ministry of Education has made CS mandatory for graduation which means that all Seniors must take a CS course. We use a progression of using ISTE standards for Pre-School and evolving into CSTA standards.

Doug:  Are you the online Computer Science teacher at AST as well?

Michelle: We do not have online courses. All our courses are on site. My school counts 4 Computer labs equipped with PCs and a CS class room plus we are a one-on-one High School.

Doug:  When students graduate from High School at AST, where do they go?  University, College, Work?

Michelle: We have a 99 to 100% college going rate. A few stay here in Honduras for college especially if they are interested in Medicine or law school; others go to the States, Canada and now more commonly to Europe for college. We also have a Senior year internship program where students can get a short experience in the workforce of their career interest to be able to make a more informed decision before leaving for college.

Doug:  What were the big takeaways from this year’s CSTA Conference that you took back home?

Michelle: There were so many great workshops and conferences that every year it becomes harder to choose which ones to attend, but the keynotes got us great messages. I especially loved the one by Andy Gonzalez one of the authors of “Girl code”. The new launch of CSTA+ was a success and as part of the board of directors it makes me happy to see my association grow and makes me proud to work and serve the CS teachers globally.

Doug:  Last year, a mutual friend of ours, Stephanie, and her husband joined you for holidays in Tegucigalpa.  What kinds of things did you do?

Michelle: Stephanie and Brandon visited us for Thanksgiving. It was their first time in Honduras. We took a short 20 minute flight to an island called Roatan which is part of the Honduran Bay islands. We went snorkeling and got a nice tan in November. Our Bay islands are world famous and an amazing tourist attraction. Snorkeling and scuba diving are a must as they are part of the Mesoamerican coral reef which is the second biggest natural coral reef after Australia. Then we flew back to our coastal city of San Pedro Sula and made the road trip back to my hometown where we celebrated Thanksgiving with my family and visited a small colonial town called Valle de Angeles where we rode a motor taxi commonly known as Tuc Tucs here. Stephanie and Brandon learned how to make tortillas. My kids were teaching them Spanish. It was so much fun having them here.

Doug:  You indicate you speak English, Spanish, and Spanglish.  I’m curious – what does Spanglish mean to you?

Michelle:  For me there are two ways to define Spanglish.  Spanish is my first language, but as a fully bilingual person I learned English at the same time as Spanish. So Spanglish is when you incorporate a word in English into a Spanish sentence because you have no idea how to say that word in Spanish or vice versa. The other thing is (and you might notice this in the way I write or express myself) is that I usually think in Spanish so I use more words to express one thought in English. I speak English 8 or more hours a day as my school is an English spoken campus and my kids are also English/Spanish/Spanglish speaker.s A very funny anecdote is that my first born son who is currently in third grade his lowest grade is always the Spanish class. The reason for this is that my house is more English spoken, we watch TV and movies in English, we read more in English than Spanish and we even talk to each other in English. There is a belief that since English is our second language and we get Spanish everywhere we go, then we should practice our English more frequently.

Doug:  How about your children?  Is it important to you that they are bilingual?  

Michelle: For my husband and me, it is very important that they are at least bilingual and if they can learn a third language such as French, Mandarin etc. even better. We want them to be competitive everywhere and be able to understand and communicate in different ways to open doors. We also consider programming another language as it promotes logic and common sense which is not as common as it should be, so that can also be considered another language they can learn. They have mastered Spanglish by now so there is that too.

Doug:  Not far from your school, there’s this lovely looking green area called Eco Park Juana Lainez.  What can you tell us about that?

Michelle: Cerro Juana Lainez (Juana Lainez hill) is a national monument that has our flag permanently on display and can be seen from most places in town. In recent years a series of foundations have remodeled it and turn it into a nice eco park that involves several areas of our society including our school. Our Senior students have to do a community project as part of our Ministry of Education requirements and this year they are reforesting the areas around the monument. They have also built hiking and bike trails and playgrounds for kids. It is a very nice place inside the city to spend a family Saturday or Sunday. Every time there is a national holiday such as independence day, there is also a tradition that our Armed forces salute the nation 3 times a day, at 6 am, 12 m and 6 pm with 7 cannon blanks making 21 salutes in total.

Doug:  If someone was planning a trip to Tegucigalpa, what are some of the “must-see” places to visit?

Michelle: Definitely Cristo del Picacho, a Sculpture of Christ of 2,500 tons and 98 feet in total height (an image of 65 feet high on a pedestal of 33 feet). It is located in El Picacho, a special place in the strip occupied by the Park of the United Nations and bordering the same hill which is about 2 kms from our house. It is a wonderful sight especially at night. Right there in the same park we have the Rosa Walthers zoo which has been recently remodeled. If you keep going up the hill you find La Tigra National Park an ecological reserve which has great hiking trails where you can see great Honduran flora & fauna. There are many Catholic churches that were built in the colonial era and have great architectural interests and religious antiques and images. Then there is the newest Church which only took 62 years to build (from 1943-2005) and it is now the home of our country’s patron Virgen de Suyapa.

It is also nice to visit the different small museums that are around town such as Museo de Identidad Nacional or MIN as everyone knows it here. If you want to go to the near outsides of town, Valle de Angeles and Santa Lucia are two small colonial towns located around 20 minutes away from downtown and have great Honduran typical food restaurants, sights and souvenir shops.

Doug:  If someone was interested in following you on social media, where could they find you?

They can follow me at:

  • Twitter: @mglagos
  • G+:
  • LinkedIn: Michelle Lagos
  • Facebook: Michelle Lagos de Javier
  • Snapchat: mglagos

Doug:  Thank you so much for the interview, Michelle.  I now have more things to chat about when we get together next summer in Phoenix.

Periodically, I interview interview interesting people like Michelle for this blog.  You can read them all here.

This post was made to:

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

An Interview with Terry Greene

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

Let’s find out more about Terry.

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

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

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

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

Doug:  Who manages the eCampusOntario and OntarioExtend Twitter accounts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doug:  Will you keep the LearningNuggets blog active?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doug:  Extra Marks!  Way to go!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terry: It was an honour and a privilege.

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