This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s always a pleasure and an honour to recognize some of the great writing that appears on the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers. I hope that you can find the time to click through and read all of these wonderful posts.


A moment of reckoning in Canada

From Paul McGuire, what I would call a pretty significant and important blog post. Paul addresses the First Nations issue that has been so prominent in the news this past while. He pours his soul and thoughts into the document and then digs into some historical records to give us even more information. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up not knowing any of this and am playing catch up now. I so appreciate when people are sharing their own research.

In closing, he reflects on the recent incidents at Ryerson University. I’m sure that we haven’t heard the last of this and we may well be seeing history being made before our eyes. Even the Toronto District School Board is reportedly looking into the history of the names of all of its schools.

Beyond the historical references though, the images that Paul shares of the children’s shoes all laid out on Parliament Hill will slap you right in the face. It’s a somber and enduring image for me.


Lucky Shot

From Sheila Stewart, some of her very personal and open thoughts about getting her first shot of a vaccine. I think that everyone who is now getting vaccinated is feeling like they’re a little late to the party. You can’t help but notice the long lines waiting for shots on the evening news – at least from Ontario stations. We also received news from Detroit where it doesn’t appear to be big news anymore. The really big news there is the Governor opening up the state next week.

Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

Beyond the first steps of finding a place to get a shot, the second issue to be resolved is which shot. We live in an area that was perceived to be a hot spot a few months ago and so AstraZeneca was the first one available. This were different for her.

I find it interesting how we’re probably more than medically literate these days – I couldn’t begin to tell you who the manufacturer was of the vaccines that our kids had before they got to go to school. But I know way more about AstraZenica, Moderna, and Pfizer than I would ever have thought I would. Sheila has gone deeper thinking that there was a component in Moderna that would adversely affect her.

Click through to read the post, find out about the component, and her personal trek to getting that important first shot.


Something stinks

You can’t sugar coat this post from Amanda Potts. If I’ve ever seen a bait and switch blog post, this is it. And, I mean it in a good way. I love her writing.

She starts out talking about how fuzzy the end of this school year appeared to her at the time which evoked one emotion and then switched to her going out to her garden with her cat to witness a skunk at her hosta plants which brought out another emotion!

I will admit that I’m not much of a gardener but I’ve learned so much about hostas from living around here. In our Navy Yard park downtown, we have apparently 202 different varieties – https://visitamherstburg.ca/mary-mary-quite-contrary-how-do-your-hostas-grow/

Each of them are labelled – the labels actually go out before many of them break surface so I imagine there’s a master map somewhere. As a fan of the little guy, my favourite is Holy Mouse Ears. They didn’t appear one year and are back now and they are so much smaller than the others.

Even the word “hosta” intrigues me. Most often, I see it written as “hostas” and I get it because I don’t ever think I’ve seen just one. Or, I’m missing the whole point completely which is entirely possible.


Summer Tech with Amber Mac: 6 Hot Picks

Amber MacArthur was a keynote speaker at a Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee’ Symposium and an ECOO Bring IT, Together Conference. I follow her blog and her presence on Facebook as she’s always digging around and researching so much dealing with technology.

Recently, she shared some of her “hot picks” for this summer and I was intrigued with the gaming router. We have an issue with one part of our house that doesn’t get very strong wifi and so I’m looking for a solution. This may be it; there are a number of extenders available and I’ve tried and returned them because they seem to be laggy.

Anyway, she picks these:

  • CREATE YOUR OWN VIDEO GAMES: NINTENDO GAME BUILDER GARAGE
  • MAKE YOUR OWN MUSIC VIDEOS: LEGO VIDIYO MUSIC VIDEO MAKER
  • GET PAIN-FREE STREAMING AT HOME: TP-LINK ARCHER GX90 WI-FI 6 GAMING ROUTER
  • MAKE COOL DRINKS WITH KITCHEN TECH: BREVILLE BLUICER 3X PRO
  • EXERCISE OUTSIDE WITH ALL-DAY MUSIC: HUAWEI FREEBUDS 4I
  • COOK OUTSIDE WITH CLEAN ENERGY: BIOLITE CAMPSTOVE 2+

As luck would have it, she went live on Facebook yesterday and talked her way through each one of them – and there’s a giveaway involved if you drop off a comment to her before June 20.


Trouble with Hybrid Learning

From the Heart and Art Blog, Deborah Weston shares a well thought out and reasoned opinion about hybrid learning which we’re now interpreting as some students face to face in classroom and some students online at home.

It actually seems like a simple solution to anyone except teachers, I’m guessing. It’s only as a teacher that you realize that there are so many logistics to making it happen. One of the things that the proponents never mention is the lack of immediate 1:1 moments that you get face to face.

Deborah does a nice job of gathering all of the elements together in one spot in this post.

  • Cost Savings
  • Less Community Supports
  • Hybrid Hurts Relationships
  • Competing Agendas (Online vs In Class)
  • Long-term consequences

I have no doubt that educators who read this will totally agree with her thoughts. Unfortunately, I suspect that many decision makers will never see it.


Anti-Racism and Archival Description Work

On the ActiveHistory blog, Krista McCracken shared her learning from a recent workshop – Anti-Oppressive Description and Re-Description Workshop.

I was really interested in the description and the activity involved. I’ve been in many workshops but this one was so different and beyond anything I’ve ever had the opportunity to attend.

In this case, it was an opportunity to look at historical records and the language used to describe the events. Some of the suggestions from the workshop include:

  • Use objective voice in description and avoid using passive voice 
  • Use accurate and strong language such as lynching, rape, murder, and hate mail when they are appropriate. 
  • Describe relationships of power when they are important for understanding the context of records.
  • Describe records in a way that supports communities, not just academics

I can’t help but think that this wouldn’t be controversial. Will it make history more accurate or will it make history more responsive to what is happening right now?

Fascinating.


HOW TO CREATE CUSTOM GOOGLE KEEP HEADERS FOR BETTER ORGANIZATION

I love it when someone shows off some technique that I hadn’t thought of or haven’t used in a while and it inspires me to so some additional learning. Such was this post from the Edugals.

Every time I use Google Keep, I have this sense that I’m only scratching the surface of what I could do with it.

If you’re a Google Keep user, this blog post and the video that goes with it are worth your time to work through. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

And, if you like templates, this is a nice post to visit! They’re sharing.


Please take some time to enjoy these wonderful blog posts.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Sheila Stewart – @sheilaspeaking
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Amber MacArthur – @ambermac
  • Deborah Weston – @DPAWestonPhD
  • Krista McCracken – @kristamccracken
  • Edugals – @edugals

This Week in Ontario Edublogs is broadcast live most Wednesday mornings on voicEd Radio. This week’s show:

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


And, it’s another Friday. It’s time to share some great blogging from around the province.


The College Drop-In

Terry Greene is back and active on his blog with an interesting announcement. He’s involved with another project through eCampusOntario. You’ll recall that he was very actively involved earlier in an Extend project for educators. He called that the Empowered Educator. You’ll recall that that introduced us to a number of educators through a voicEd Radio show and their blogs.

This time, the target are learners that are interested in returning to higher education but not necessarily to the full program, rather being involved with micro-credentialing. He calls these the Liberated Learners.

It’s an interesting concept and, of course, you can read more at the post on Terry’s blog. If his commitment to this project is the same as his last, we’ll look forward to many more blog posts keeping us up to date.

All this and he still manages to work skateboarding into the post …


BRAIN BREAKS ESSENTIAL WHEN TEACHING ONLINE

From the TESL Ontario blog, this post from Svjetlana Vrbanic, is a wonderful reminder for educators who are interested in their personal well being. She takes on the issue of brain breaks.

It’s a condition of the teacher beast that we’ll throw everything that we have at the profession. Just look at yourself; how many evenings have you spent developing lessons or overworking on the weekends?

As noted in the post, when you’re teaching face to face, there are moments to take a pause and refresh. It’s different when you’re online as there’s a sense for a need to be “on” all the time.

In the post, there are five suggestions for ways to take a brain break. They all seem like great suggestions but your call to action is to add your favourite way to take care of yourself.

Do you have suggestions to add?


10 years later – Takeaways from Learning in Online Spaces

Tina Zita was a little hesitant to share this post and I can guess why. The current reality for many folks isn’t pleasant and so it’s just natural to suspect how your audience might receive it.

I do appreciate her writing and sharing it though. With 10 years of experience, she should have and does have some great tips, suggestions, and observations about the process.

I found the one “The Environment is still the 3rd Teacher” to be really intriguing. In a perfect world, a teacher is generally in control of the learning environment. We arrange desks, decorate, place centres and technology, etc. Much of this has been removed from so many. All the techniques to sterilize the classroom, for example, has created a completely different environment. Emergency movement to teaching on line isn’t much different. After ten years, Tina would have developed ways to make the learning environment unique to her. Those thrust into the situation this past year had no input – they were just told that they had to do it. Many times, an educator wasn’t even involved in the selection of the environment; it was made by others for whatever reason and/or agenda.

The full slate of topics addressed by Tina are:

  • The Learner is still the centre
  • The Environment is still the 3rd Teacher
  • Start Slow – Less is More
  • Choice
  • Replicate the Experience not the Task
  • Sometimes Things Don’t Go as Planned

There’s a great deal of personal reflection here which makes this post an important one to read.

I truly was embarrassed and guilty as charged when she talked about Digital Clutter. Just sayin’


BLOSSOMING STUDENTS

Motivated by an edition of The Drive by Chey and Pav, Lise Farquhar focuses on the use of words “the” and “my”.

It was during the show that Chey made a personal adjustment in his use of “the students” versus “my students”.

It’s a little thing but, taken in its totality, it has a strong message and caught Lisa’s attention. In fact, she was moved to write a blog post about it.

Lisa takes this opportunity to share her thoughts. Read the post – what do you think?


To the grads of 2021 – spend this summer driving with music: and other lessons from Lisa Damour

From Laura Elliott, a post that really emphasizes the commitment to student well-being. This time, the message is to the graduates of 2021 in an address by Lisa Damour.

I like the way she addresses three big ideas:

  • Weightlifting & the Pandemic
  • Soft Fascination
  • University is NOT the best 4 years of one’s life

So much of this post resonated with me but I had an instant flashback when she mentions driving around with music in the car. For my friends and me, that was our great Friday and Saturday night routine. It built friendships and took us away from the concerns of the day. Our concerns pale in comparison to today but I had this tune immediately playing in my head.

“Oh how I wish we were back on the road again”


The 500 – #370 – Mott – Mott The Hoople

Marc Hodgkinson’s latest post in his music countdown instantly planted an earworm for me. (even though the song wasn’t on this album)

I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve heard this song.

My big takeaway – I didn’t realize the David Bowie connection revealed by guest blogger Claudio Sossi.

You’ll have to head over and read the post. Marc continues to do a nice job of sharing his reflections on great music. You might just join me in reading all of his posts.


Summer Breeze

And, another guest blogger – this time on Richard Erdmann’s blog. A great title and another great song.

Michelle is the guest blogger here and I had to smile at her observation that we’ve gone, and typically go, from winter to summer in Ontario. What is this spring of which she speaks?

She describes a wonderful summer that the two of them have planned whether it be at home or if they happen to be able to travel. I wish them all the best and I really want to do the same things they’re planning.

May their glasses continue to be half-full.


Please click through and enjoy all these wonderful posts.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Terry Greene – @greeneterry
  • Svjetlana Vrbanic – @lanavrb
  • Tina Zita – @tina_zita
  • Lise Farquhar – @L_Farquhar_IB
  • Laura Elliott – @lauraelliottPhD
  • Marc Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher
  • Richard Erdmann – @rerdmann

The show, recorded live on voicEd Radio can be found here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Good Friday morning! Hope you have a quick Friday (at least it’s a Friday the 14th) and on to the weekend. Oh, and check out some great blogging from Ontario Edubloggers.


Love the Interview Learning!

From Sue Bruyns, some thoughts about interviews. Personally, I hated them when I was on the being interviewed side. I was always afraid that I’d say something stupid; sometimes my speaking exceeds my thinking ability. What the heck, most of the time that happens. That’s why blogging and the ability to proofread and edit suits me well.

I did have occasion to sit on the other side of the table and it really isn’t any better watching the interviewee squirm. Apparently, Sue enjoys the interview process and explains why in this post. What I found interesting was the approach of asking interviewees to bring in an artefact and share that with the interview team. I think it’s a great approach as it shifts the control away from the people doing the interview and lets the person being interviewed take control over something they’re very comfortable talking about.

So, Sue walks us through the interview. I found it interesting and brought back memories for me of times when I sat in one or the other chairs. It’s a necessary process, I suppose, but I still get the shaking nerves when I think about it. Of course, Sue has such a wonderful style about her, I’m sure that she would make you comfortable for the interview.


Friday Two Cents: Daily Routine

If there’s one way to maintain sanity and get results in education, it’s having a healthy and regular routine. Paul Gauchi writes about a personal experience when that happens to fall off the rails.

I think he speaks for most people in the province when he says

During these past months there has been nothing but turmoil from the government: are we going into virtual learning or are we staying with the in-class option?  It goes back and forth, back and forth.

It’s pretty difficult to build a regular routine when that is your reality. He notes the shortage of occasional teachers and that only adds to the situation.

I think we all look back at the past year with a critical eye and that’s done here, in the concept of a routine. What happens when that routine stops? What happens when you rebuilt the routine?

Read about it in this post.


Windows #SOL

I’ve been sitting on this post from Melanie White for a bit because it’s kind of sad, kind of insightful, kind of nostalgic, …

She starts by talking about cleaning windows which immediately made me think of this Safety Last! scene.

There’s a husband story here about cleaning windows to start the post but she ends up with a thought about classroom windows. Supposedly, they let you look outside, but you really only see a subset of what’s out there. In my teaching experience, most of my time was spent in a windowless classroom. The outside was neither a distraction nor an inspiration. When I did get a classroom with an outside window, it was one of those tall windows that you’ll find in an air conditioned building. It was slightly better.

But, I got thinking … all that comes into play when teachers and students are in the same room looking out the same window. What happens these days with remote learning? Everyone has a different window, if they have a window at all. What’s missing as a result? Can there be a meeting of the minds?


Thoughts on online teaching

Every0ne in education is reflecting on this and Lisa Corbett adds her thoughts. Particularly with the oddities of teaching online, planning and maintaining a schedule is crucial for success.

As Lisa notes, there are other things to remember to schedule – feed your own children.

It’s the teacher mentality and we’re all guilty of it. Everything about those students in our charge is important. We’re supposed to know them, be a social guidance, mentor, inspiration, and sometimes the more important things are devoted to whatever time is left over. Sure, we all know that’s wrong but we all do it.

Time is such a big deal in education and Lisa notes another upcoming time crunch – five weeks of teaching content and four weeks until report cards are due.

Gulp.


Les moments décisifs

Joel McLean gives a nice discussion about decisive moments, at the same time revisiting the notion of routines.

He works with the premise that we are a society of instant gratification – but what happens when it doesn’t come right away … The Valley of Disappointment!

I think we all go through this daily. What’s so frustrating is that horizontal axis. You plod along it never knowing what’s going to happen next. We rely on the fact that there will be an upturn —- but when?

I’m going to give a shout out to educators. We may not be able to see the future but we absolutely know that, if we stay the course, that curve will bend and we will see results. It’s just disappointing, even frustrating, until that happen.

Joel’s formula for success?
Patience + Perseverance + Effort = Decisive Moment


Anti-oppressive student placement cards

I’m a bit out of my element in this post on the Heart and Art Blog from Deb Weston. She tagged me in it and there was a ton of responses to it so I know that it resonated with many. It never really affected me – I was the only computer science teacher in the school so if you wanted that subject, you got me. Full stop.

Of course, the world isn’t all like that and Deb shares her thoughts.

She identifies past practices for placement of students in classes.

Past Student Placement Cards:

  • Gender: Blue cards for boys, Pink cards for girls
  • Academic success: High, Medium, Low (circle one)
  • Language: High, Medium, Low (circle one)
  • Math: High, Medium, Low (circle one)
  • Special Education Support: formal/informal IEP (circle one)
  • English Language Learners: Steps of ELL for Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing
  • Students to place in same class with:
  • Students to not place in class with:
  • Attendance issues: Yes/No Reasons for absence:
  • Student Behaviour: Big “B” and little “b”
  • Parental issues: Big “P” (big parent problem)

Then, she addresses the assumptions and issues with this approach and puts forth an alternative way of looking at things. It’s an interesting and informative read. You might want to pass it along if you’re able to influence the process.


The Annual End of Year Pressure

I guess it’s an annual event – summer is coming and there’s pressure to ensure that all that needs to be addressed in the class is, in fact, done.

Kelly McLaughlin takes a look at her world and feels that there is more pressure than normal. I think that’s perfectly understandable. How many times have educators had to shift gears this year? Then, there’s the whole “are schools going to re-open in June” thing.

One of the things that educators have had to learn on the fly is assessment in its current form… i.e. at a distance. Never mind the actual teaching, consider the whole assessment picture. All of the traditional techniques and observations have been rethought in the current reality.

Kelly shares her plans for the month of June and the things that she has planned – coding and health among others as well as some of the approaches and resources that she has been using just to get to this point.

I like the fact that she was so open with this – the more that people share good ideas, the more we realize that the wheel truly doesn’t need to be reinvented.


Please take some time to click through and read these wonderful posts and drop off a comment or two.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Joel McLean – @jprofNB
  • Deborah Weston – @DrDWestonPhD
  • Kelly McLaughlin

This week’s This Week in Ontario Edublogs podcast can be accessed here:

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


That sigh that you just heard was from the collection of Ontario Educators on the last Friday before the Spring Break. Days like this are becoming milestones, it seems. It’s a chance to acknowledge some of the great writing going on from around the province.


Your Moment: Getting You Ready for Retirement (OTPP Retirement Planning Webinars)

For many educators, the next big milestone will be the end of the school year and the end of a career in education.

What comes next?

Getting ready for retirement is of importance to these people.

In this blog post, Peter Beens shares the times and dates for some retirement seminars from the Ontario Teacher’ Pension Plan. If you’re calling it a career, this is something that you should do for yourself as you plan your future.

“Next Steps” will take on an additional meaning!


This is the end/beginning #SOL21 31/31

Amanda Potts is part of the Slice of Life project and has been doing so for four years. The big event is to write once a day for the entire month of March. This is her culminating post.

I liked her philosophy about why she continued to write. I do think that bloggers are a special community. I’ve tried to build and support that community in the province here. It’s interesting when you think in terms of community; we can build it, we can interact with each other, but realistically most of us will never meet in real life.

Yet, we remain part of whatever this elusive group happens to be and that’s pretty important in my mind. I guess a tip of the cap needs to go to our all teachers who encouraged good writing skills in school. They equipped us with the ability to do this.

Amanda has a moment of inspiration in this post that I think we all need to stop and ponder for a little bit in the spring of the year. What happens when you pull back that underbrush and everything that has accumulated over the winter?

It’s a message that we all need right now.


Doing hard things 31/31 #SOL

Another Slice of Life post to be shared comes from Melanie White.

So nicely done, she gives us an insight as to why this March has been hard on her. I suspect that she speaks for so many educators. It has indeed been hard and nobody wants to switch to the news to see what sort of alternate reality has emerged on any particular day.

Melanie notes that she uses her blog and her writing to create her own alternate world at times. I really thought that that description was particularly powerful. I know that there is all kinds of frustration and worry among all. Could sitting down and writing in this new world be a coping mechanism that would be good for all?

It couldn’t hurt.

If nothing else, it would be a break in the teach/mark/teach/mark routine.


Slice of Life: Words

The third Slice of Life blog post comes from Lisa Corbett. She’s been doing this for, gasp, fourteen years. Wow.

Wow, just wow.

March has been a challenge for her as well — wishing to write and then discarding efforts lest she get too emotional about putting her thoughts to text.

Many times this month I would sit down intending to write one thing, the thing I’d been thinking about all day, only to discover I had so many other things that needed to come out.

It got me thinking about why so many people do blog. I suspect that, for most, it truly is a cathartic experience and a real release.

I know that, personally, I use it as a way to get something free and clear from my mind. There’s something special about knowing that it’s out there so I don’t have to struggle to remember; I’ll just go back and re-read it. I know that our minds are amazing things but they have to have their own limits too!

If you’ve ever been in a classroom, you can’t help but empathise with the emotional stories that Lisa shares. We all have them and we’ve all had to deal with them.


Changing school from solving problems to dealing with problems – A way forward (part 2)

I’ve been waiting for this post, a followup to “Part 1” from Dave Cormier.

In Part 1, he took us through his thoughts about the Chegg-ification of education. I think that we all know that the goal of education has to be more than the regurgitation of facts. Particularly in an information rich society where you can find 100 answers easily with a quick DuckDuckGo search.

So, if answers are so easy to find, then maybe we refine the question to find the “best” answer from among those 100?

In this post, Dave takes us much deeper than that. He gives us the example…

“How many watts of power does your apartment use” becomes “What is the best way to reduce the number of watts your apartment uses”.

So, go ahead and shift some gears here. I think it’s tough to argue with his logic. I think we’d all like to think that we’re teaching students to be individual thinkers and problem solvers.

All of this stems from the original premise of the “Purpose of Education” which Dave starting thinking/blogging about ten years ago.

I know that I’m stuck in my own mindset of what education and school should be like and look like. At every level of education that I’ve been in, there was a series of assessments followed by an evaluation from someone who presumably knows more about the subject area being studied than me. After all, that’s how education works. Imagine having to assess thirty different solutions to a problem. Do our sense of marks/grades have to go away and move to a fail/pass scenario?

Dave’s got my head spinning thinking about this and he promises a Part 3 to this where he takes on the notion of what a problem is and how do you present it effectively which my old mindset is interpreting “do I have to be taught how to solve a problem in order to solve another problem?”

I can’t wait for this Part 3.


Old Fellas New Music

Paul McGuire is back with a new partner and a new podcast. The partner is Bob Kennedy and the podcast is

I like the premise. I enjoy music from all sources and I enjoy listening to new music when I can find it. I can’t help but think about my youth and how our radios were permanently tuned to CKLW, The Big 8 where we didn’t have to find our own new music. Big Jim Edwards, Pat Holiday, Ted Richards, Charlie O’Brien, Tom Shannon, Dave Shafer, and more found it for us. Actually, they just took the top 40 and played it over and over for us. We knew every song and every lyric.

We live in a different world now. Yes, we could just turn on the Oldies station and relive the past. I’m hoping this podcast will introduce me to some great new music.

In the post, Paul points us to the Podcast and a Spotify playlist so that we can enjoy what he and Bob have been listening to. I had the playlist going in the background while typing and it was refreshing to have new music.


The Frailty of the Body

Joan Vinall-Cox shares a short mix of media in this post.

It’s a poem about the human body posted next to a shadowy image which I’m assuming is Joan.

I’m taken a bit by this poem and I fully understand that, for me, it’s about living in the times that we live in.

We’ve been able to heal broken bones, can fix skin problems, adjust eyesight, have a solution for the common cold, and yet the world comes to its knees with a new virus.


I’ll sign off with a wish for a restful next week for you. For some of you, the option of getting a vaccine becomes possible.

Then, follow these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Peter Beens – @pbeens
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Dave Cormier – @davecormier
  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Dr. Joan Vinall-Cox – @DrJoanVinallCox

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


After a snowy week, it’s nice to be able to sit back and check out some blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.


February Patience

Aviva Dunsiger has taken the suggestion from Beth Lyons about doing a #oneword each month rather than one for the year and February is going to be “Patience”.

I think every teacher will agree that February is a tough month at the best of times and the 2021 version is just so much worse. For teachers throughout the province, face to face teaching resumes this February. This following weeks of teaching online. Or as Aviva puts it

we’re about to begin a September in February

As a result, she’s questioning the concept of patience as she, dare I say pivots, back to face to face.

I can’t help but think that patience isn’t necessarily patience online versus face to face. The concept of dead air comes to mind. It’s OK in the classroom since there’s all kinds of other feedback cues but online?

There are some interesting questions that she asks that I think every teacher might ask themselves. Heck, they’re good questions for everyone.


The (A)politics of Education–In a World Where There is No Such Thing as Neutral

This post, from Debbie Donsky, is a nice followup to the recent post from Matthew Morris. In fact, Debbie does make reference to Matthew’s quote and Faculties of Education.

I had to look up the definition of “apolitical” just to make sure that I understood what I thought it meant.

Having no interest in or association with politics. 2. Having no political relevance or importance: claimed that the president’s upcoming trip was purely apolitical.

“apolitical.” Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary. 2010. 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. 18 Feb. 2021 https://www.thefreedictionary.com/apolitical

Throughout the post, Debbie mentions some of the issues of the day. From my perspective, I’m not sure that I could be considered apolitical about these things. I clearly have my leanings on things.

The notion of not bringing politics into the classroom was perhaps well minded about days near an election. It seems to me that most things of importance these days are political.

Debbie does a really deep dive about the topic and ties it nicely to education. It’s a good and powerful read.


STUDENT PROJECTS TO PROMOTE CREATIVITY

I’m not sure why you would ever assign a project to students that didn’t promote creativity but maybe that’s just me.

On the TESTOntario blog, John Allan uses this premise to introduce or re-introduce some pretty important tools.

  • CANVA
  • WinkSite
  • Google Tour Creator
  • QuestGarden

For each, John gives a nice discussion and there’s plenty of reference to good pedagogy there. There are all kinds of ideas. I think that I’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth repeating.

Online learning from home is better if students understand the tools involved. So, in these days where schools are back face to face, it’s a good time to use these effectively in case the unthinkable happens again. If not, they’ll still generate some great learning opportunities.

For each of the tools, John provides a “how to”, an “example”, and a ‘blog post.”

Consequently, it’s just not a list of tools but a launchpad to using these tools effectively.


Improvement is the Enemy of Change

This provocative title leads us to a discussion and observation of two of the high profile issues of the day. Charles says he’s non-partisan.

But, my thoughts as I read this — political? You betcha.

Far too often, huge and wasteful attention is paid to the superficial expressions of a problem rather than putting in the energy and time to go deeper to discover the real obstacles that get in the way of meaningful movement towards the desired outcomes. 

Charles Pascal uses this as a way to discuss

  • paid sick days
  • profit motive that drives 60% of Ontario’s long-term care facilities

These are topics for discussion in any year. In a year with COVID and the desire to keep virus spread, they take on increasing importance.

Briefly, doesn’t it only make sense for people who are sick to stay home? Wouldn’t paid sick days help address that?

And, isn’t it just obvious that cuts to expenditures to increase profits at long-term care facilities put residents and workers at greater risk?

We’ve seen the effects of both of these things. It’s on the news constantly. In this post, Charles goes into each topic at great discussion. This is a very sobering post to read. I’m glad that he took the time to share his thoughts with us.


Building practices for great equity: Careful engagement in Collaborative Learning

Beate Planche reached out to me to let me know of her blog and this was the most recent post. She gives us a nice discussion about Collaborative Learning and some links for additional reading.

Thinking back, I really didn’t get any direction about collaborative learning while at the Faculty of Education. We did talk about “group work” but it was never with the deep understanding that Beate drives home in this post.

Even as an educator, I’ve been in situations where we were “doing collaborative learning” at professional learning events. Often, it was contrived and seemed like a way for a presenter to fill time.

If you follow Beate’s post, she describes a practice that is a great deal of work and doesn’t elevate the teacher from the actual learning. If done effectively, the teacher is moving and working hard to encourage students.

In the study of Computer Science, a collaborative process described as Pair Programming can be found here. It’s a popular topic at Computer Science professional learning events.


Time is the…

As I read this post from Sheila Stewart, bells went off in my head. She says she stumbled into this song.

She was struck by the last of the song

Time is the mirror
Time is the healer
Time is the teacher

My song? And in response to Sheila’s call to action from the post… Certainly not as obscure as hers but very powerful as I really and truly paid attention to the lyrics.

And I enjoyed listening to Sheila’s suggestion as well.


Snow Day = No School Day

I knew that someone would be writing about Snow Days on the Heart and Art Blog. Heck I’d even written a post myself on Wednesday. Well, I wrote about it on Tuesday for it to appear on the Wednesday.

So, back to Heart and Art because this post isn’t about me – Deborah Weston took on the topic. I’ve got to believe that part of her inspiration came from social media as teachers throughout the province checked in on what was happening in their districts.

It seemed to be divided into two camps – Camp 1 let Snow Days be Snow Days and Camp 2 was The Show Must Go On. I can actually see how the logic would flow in the Camp 2 camp from those who are at the system level and make the decisions.

I’m getting tired of the terms “pivot” and “flip to” and Deborah uses them to share her observation about what might happen. It’s a good read for all teachers, to be sure, but I would suggest even better for decision makers.

If you can just easily pivot from a planned face to face lesson to online, the lesson can’t have been very good to begin with.


I hope that you can find some time to click through and read these original posts.

Then, follow these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Debbie Donsky – @debbiedonsky
  • John Allan – @mrpottz
  • Charles Pascal – @CEPascal
  • Beate Planche – @bmplanche
  • Sheila Stewart – @SheilaSpeaking
  • Deborah Weston – @DPAWestonPhD