This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Greetings from an area still in Phase 1. I hope those of you who are not got yourself a nice haircut.


The Class of 2020

Congratulations to Jennifer Casa-Todd for getting her Masters degree in Curriculum and Technology. In any other year, the day that she booked off would have been spent travelling to convocation, getting taken to a nice supper and getting showered with congratulatory gifts.

Of course, things are different and she made the effort to still make the day special by dressing up in cap and gown and walking across her front lawn.

So many questions – flipflops or barefeet? who just has a cap and gown hanging in a closet for this occasion?

Jennifer uses the post to extend congratulations to so many that are in the Class of 2020 no matter where they are. Achievements like this are big and definitely need to be observed.

Anne Adamson shared how they’re celebrating around here.


Skipped a generation

From the ourdadshoes blog comes this post from Jay Dubois. Like many of the posts of the blog, it’s written to honour the man that served as his father.

Jay is a bit tough on himself indicating that there were some things that his father tried to teach him that didn’t take. I think all of us often felt this way, that we couldn’t stand up to the standard that the greatest man in our lives set.

Jay’s in the position now of being father to his own children and shares his insights on how that’s going with him.

I just hope he doesn’t get this thrown at him like I do. “Daaaaad, you’re such a teacher.”


Snapshot- a Photo Synthesis

When Noa Daniels blogs about anything that fits into her BOB philosophy, I find it very insightful and most definitely worth the time to read, consider, and bookmark.

In this case, she talks about a concept that she uses called “Snapshots” which is such a rich activity at so many levels. Of course, there’s the photo aspect but it goes way beyond that when you consider media literacy.

What made such an impression on me was how flexible this activity was. It was started long before the school building closures but it seems to me that it’s relatively easily done at the distance teachers find themselves from students these days.

I think this is something bookmark-worthy for implementation in your own classroom whatever shape or form they take in the fall.

If you go right to the bottom of the post, Noa has included a slideshow of the images that the students have submitted for this assignment. You’ll have faith that Noa’s students are going to be world aware and empathic going forward.


STATEMENT FROM EDUGALS ABOUT EVENTS UNFOLDING IN THE USA.

Rachel Johnson, Katie Attwell are the EduGals. They take a departure from the regular focus of their blog – technology support, insights, and inspirations – to share their very personal opinions about what we’re seeing south of the border.

They recognize straight up their privilege as white women and some of the things that they’ve never had to worry about in their lives.

I felt that they identified and explained their position nicely. But Canada is not off the hook here and they don’t let the issues of the day that are in the news go unnoticed. Kudos to them for that.

Included in the post as well are resources worth investigating.

I’m reminded of this article written for TVOntario about the last segregated school in Canada. When and where before you click.

The story of Ontario’s last segregated Black school

And, you don’t have to beyond the nightly news to realize the plight of our First Nations’ citizens.


Classrooms & Communities

This is an older post from Idil Abdulkadir, dating back to February. So why share it now?

Like Noa’s post above, this describes a wonderful classroom activity for MAP4C. And, it’s given the very technical name of “The Thing”.

In a world where mathematics is seen as something that needs to be dragged from students and something that is to be endured until the end, this is different. The enthusiasm for mathematics and engagement from Idil comes through clearly in the post.

So why now? Because in these days of not meeting face to face with students, it’s something that addressed important expectations and yet has a huge engagement factor. Using support for Twitter, Idil has assembled a delightful learning activity and it begins with a collection of data in a shared spreadsheet.

We all know the power of infographics and data analysis done correctly with the element to convince the reader to get immersed in the topic.

So, “The Thing” has evolved over time.


Over the past few weeks from when I found it, I’ve been trying to highlight the great father posts from ourdadshoes.com. Since Father’s Day is this Sunday, I’ve run out of time. Posts that I haven’t shared here…

Intent of the Blog

Please take the time to click through and read all these great blog posts.

Then, follow these Ontario Educators on Twitter.

  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @jcasatodd
  • Jay Dubois – @Jay__Dubois
  • Noa Daniel – @noasbobs
  • Edugals – @EduGals
  • Idil Abdulkadir – @Idil_A_

This post originates from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


There never seems to be any shortage of good blog pieces from Ontario Edubloggers. Friday is my opportunity to share what I’ve read recently.

Here goes…


Arguments for Teacher Performance Pay in Ontario

This wasn’t the first time that Kyleen Gray has blogged about the merits of Performance pay for teachers. See the older post here. In this post, she argues five areas where she feels how performance pay would improve the profession.

  • Will support retention of effective teachers
  • Improve teacher performance
  • Positively impact student learning
  • Public perception of teacher professionalism
  • Vet poor teachers from the teaching profession

Personally, I have a difficult time seeing how it would play out in the long run.

  • Who would make the judgement about who is effective and who isn’t?
  • What is the baseline against which performance would be judged?
  • Particularly in her fifth point, would there be an opportunity for a “poor teacher”, however that is defined, to improve?
  • Are some subject areas more valuable than others?
  • How do you compare performance across grades, across subject areas, across a school district, indeed across a province so that there is a consistent standard?
  • Do we place higher value on coaching than we do on a person upgrading their qualifications or the experience and wisdom that comes from longevity?

There are so many issues that I just can’t see a solution to with this premise. The value of teacher federations goes beyond pay – it also involves security, benefits, social activism, collegiality, pension … How does that survive?

Stephen Hurley also blogged about the issue here.


Slice is of Life: Who Needs Me?

I would argue that teachers work all year long to get to the point that Lisa Corbett describes in this post.

In a mathematics class, she found herself on the outside looking in. But in a good way!

No student needed her assistance and yet all of them were engaged with whatever activity they were assigned. (See the image with the smiley faces in her post)

My first note on Lisa’s post was “this doesn’t happen by accident”. It’s the result of a great deal of hard work creating the environment, developing the skill set, and finding engaging activities to have the students working in this manner.

I suppose that she could have left and got herself a coffee but she found other equally valuable things to do in the classroom. What’s not to like?


WHEN LAST PLACE FEELS LIKE FIRST PLACE

In the first sentence in this blog post from Mike Washburn, I had to open a tab and find out just what he was talking about when he claims to have finished a race on Zwift.

Then, I was able to read on and put things in context. I had already had my eyes drawn to the spreadsheet-like construct that appeared in the post. So, Zwift allows him to compete against others in a MOOC for cycling and running. He was competing against people from who knows where and who cares where with the goal of pushing himself to do better things.

It’s an interesting concept and he admits that he had some pretty strict competition but it was a fellow competitor by the name of Lisa that kept him going. A lesser person might have just given up.

So, he stuck with it. Then, he turns his eyes towards the classroom. Is there personal learning that he could take from his experience to get the same results from his own students?

It’s an interesting read. I think it is a good reminder that we all need others to support us in our endeavours. As adults, we hopefully can realize this. How can we set the table so that students get the same understanding?


Find A Vision

Joel McLean offers a video well worth the time watching.

We can’t all be visionaries. I think we all know that.

But, how do you work for/with/along with someone who is.

Joel offers three suggestions…

  • Ask questions
  • Put on a different pair of glasses
  • Have faith

And, there’s another piece of advice that a visionary that I worked with told me once which was one of his attributions of success.

Surround yourself with smart people

I think we should all learn that we just might be that smart person that they want with them. If we use Joel’s advice, you just might be able to make them better.


Perseverance, struggle and a little grit: How running a 53km race relates to Education

Seriously? 53km?

Even biking that distance is an edurance. Jonathan So did this race and it took him 06:16:49.

The numbers and the distance just blow me away.

So, what does it mean in education? I like his quote

if we want our students to _____ than we need to show it.

He shows endurance, grit, partnerships, and all those things that we value in education. What a great testimonial about how he undertakes these things in personally.

It would take a brave student to refuse to do a lap of the track or gym in Mr. So’s classroom after this.

And that smile!


Do We Need A Scaffolded Approach To Bullying?

Coming from an educator in Hamilton, Aviva Dunsiger, served to put a great deal of context to her thoughts about bullying, particularly at this time.

On the eve of a bullying prevention assembly, she’s musing about ways to get a suitable message across. It’s NOT an easy topic. If it was, we would have solutions in place already.

Maybe this message is a utopian ideal. Maybe it won’t work in every grade. I wonder though if there needs to be a scaffolded approach to bullying. Would a book like this one be a good start in kindergarten, and what might the impact be as the kids progress along the grades?

I’d love to see a Language teacher or a teacher-librarian take a read of Aviva’s post and provide a continuum of books for students to help the cause.

While we may not have the ultimate answer, I love the fact that teachers are thinking, talking, and through this blog post, advocating for the cause.


New Journeys

This blog post, from Lisa Munro, gives us an insight into education that we don’t always see. She’s a Superintendent of Education and blogging. As she notes:

I have hesitated to blog too much in this system role because, misguided or not, I sometimes feel people expect me to be the expert and that is not a great feeling.  If you have ever blogged you know there is a certain vulnerability in putting your ideas into a public space; a vulnerability and a commitment.

There absolutely is a vulnerability when you’re blogging. It’s something that I think that we all come to wrestle with the concept periodically. In Lisa’s case, she’s only two months into this new role so can be justified to be feeling that way a bit.

I can’t help though, but think that there’s real value in pairing this post with Joel’s post above. Nobody is in the position of being the all-knowing expert. But you can surround yourself with supportive and wise people and what better platform than a blog to make this happen?

Lisa does invite you to converse with her via blog and Twitter. Why not take her up on that?


So, absolutely, there is another wonderful collection of blog post for this week. Please do take the opportunity to read their thoughts in their entirety.

Then, make sure you follow them on Twitter.

  • @TCHevolution
  • @LisaCorbett0261
  • @misterwashburn
  • @jprofnb
  • @MrSoClassroom
  • @avivaloca
  • @LisaMunro11

This post originates from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

Coding for Young Mathematicians


I summarized my thoughts about Lisa Floyd’s presentation at the Bring IT, Together Conference like this.

Calculators are successful in Mathematics not because we learn how to write the code to create a calculator but because we use it to get a deeper understanding of non-trivial Mathematics

When I saw this in the program, I knew that I wanted to attend. Lisa has been doing a great deal of research into Mathematics and Computational Thinking and was a keynote a few years ago. I didn’t know what to expect but I was hoping for something other than a “Let’s do something cool in Scratch and then try to tie it into Mathematics or some other subject area”.

I wasn’t disappointed.

I’ve attended many a session like I described above. I always enjoy them (despite the sarcasm) but I always wonder about the claims of how students all understand coding and Mathematics as a result. Is that really true?

I was hoping that this wouldn’t be another like that. Plus the fact that she mentioned Scratch AND Python was intriguing.

As she notes, “Ontario does not have coding in K-8”. Of course this is true but we sure have all kinds of Mathematics! She gave us a number of different examples featuring Geometric Art, Gtowing Patterns, Plotting on a Grid, Probability, … In the presentation, she gave us lots of examples and talked us through the process that she uses.

None of the examples started with a blank screen! She stressed the concept of having students remix her content. By running what she distributes, the students see a Mathematical concept and then their understanding is pushed and enhanced by working with the code to make things something better.

Her approach is very visual by showing the results of the program and then takes on the Mathematics concepts. Tweak this, change that, what happens when you do this? How can you make the output look like this. The primary focus was purely on the Mathematics and the coding was secondary. It was a refreshing approach.

Lisa’s approach was cemented for me on the Friday. I attended a session where we were programming robots using a drag and drop language specifically written for those robots. We were to program them to do a task without knowing just what was happening. Often the tool that we needed was in another menu and we were encouraged to try some numbers to see how far in one direction we could make it go. Turning wasn’t a matter of turning 90 degrees, but applying force onto one wheel going in one direction while the other went in the other direction. We eventually figured it out but lost considerable time in the process. There were something like six groups in the room and nobody got the right answer; some were closer than others. Lisa’s concept of remixing would have fit right in.

I really do like her approach. I made myself another note…

Instead of debugging the program, she could spend time debugging the Mathematics involved…

You can check out some of the examples she used, in Scratch, on her website. Type the URL correctly; Lisa notes that a person with a similar spelling as chosen a different career path.

I had an opportunity to interview Lisa. You can read it here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Probably TMI, but I wore long pants and a sweat shirt for the dog walk this morning. It was so cool out there at the beginning (10 degrees) but it sure helped to work up a sweat.

For a Friday morning, here’s a look around the province at great content provided by Ontario Edubloggers.


Your Students Should Nap (and so should you)

Congratulations to Andrew Campbell for being recognized as one of the Top Canadian Educational Blogs. It says so on the link behind the badge on his landing page.

So, what does a high quality blog feature in its quest for cutting edge comments about education.

Napping.

The scientific research is clear that napping is good for us. A study showed that 10-12 year olds that took a midday nap had greater happiness, self-control, and grit; fewer behavioral problems; and higher IQ than students who didn’t.

And maybe a better command of buzzwords?

It won’t be the first study that goes ignored but it does beg a few questions.

  • If schools are struggling to get 40 desks into a classroom, where will they find the same number of cots?
  • If the kids nap, I’d want to too. We had a couch in the Business Department work area that we could flip a coin for
  • Who’s going to supervise the kids lest you have a sleepwalker?
  • Can you imagine the bad breath after wakey wakey time? Rush to the washrooms to brush?
  • Are we getting paid for this?
  • Who is going to break the news to the Ministry and the Government that this is a good idea? Or, in terms of public policy, the right wing newspapers?
  • Who would be the experts in this field? Maybe a daycare worker from down the street?

There is no STEM

I wonder how Tim King feels about STEAM then?

That’s been a hot item in education for the past few years. Keynote speakers, government grants here and there have all promoted the importance of the concept. Yet, as Tim notes in the post, there is no co-ordinated effort to make it a “thing” across the province.

Because, he notes, if it was a “thing” there would be funding, a curriculum, and recognition by universities and colleges.

Sadly, it could be taken as a slam to people that are trying their best to make it something (and some are doing great things) but it’s yet to rise to the standard of a curricular thing. The concept most certainly has value but, unlike other curriculum areas, it remains like a pickup game of baseball in elementary schools and an option in secondary schools.

It’s a shame that this pointless acronym has thrown a blanket over the grossly neglected curriculums of technology and engineering, while giving even more attention to two of the Disney princesses of academia.  To be honest with you, I think technology and engineering would be just where it is now had this STEM focus never happened, which tells you something about how this ed-fad has gone down.


The Gift of Staying Connected – Thanks Andrew and Diana

This is a heart-warming story from Diana Maliszewski about connections with students who have since graduated.

There are so many takeaways to this story other than the wonderful remembrances that Diana shares. (We now know the secret to her yearbook)

It’s a reminder that connections are constantly being made and are remembered long after graduations. Can you go back to your hometown without taking a drive past your old school or university and have fond memories flow?

For non educators who view teaching as just an assembly line for students, they need to read and see the empathy and connections made here and how Diana chose to share them with us.

And for kids – it’s just not you having memories of your teacher – it works both ways.


Three lessons on Grit and Resilience

This is another very thoughtful post from Jennifer Casa-Todd although she actually provides us with four lessons. A couple of them are kind of close so we’ll cut her some slack.

The biggest head nod that I gave Jennifer’s post was actually in her first lesson:

 Success is more likely when you work in manageable chunks

As a programmer, I set out a plan to do this, then this, then this, then this, and then put it all together. I always visualize a project as the sum of its parts. I’m not sure that I could do a more big idea approach without considering the sub-components.

It was always the way that things went in my Computer Science classes. It was easier for students to solve a problem if they worked in chunks. It also allowed them to get partial marks even if they couldn’t solve the big problem. When you’re walking around the room and asked for assistance, it was also easier to see and understand than looking at pages and pages of spaghetti code.

If there’s one piece of advice that people would be wise to consider, it’s this one. The other three are pretty good too!


HOW TO START THE SCHOOL YEAR OFF RIGHT

You know, if you could bottle that and sell it to teachers, you’d be a millionaire. Fortunately, there are all kinds of bits of wisdom about this.

This post is Kyle Pearce’s attempt at advice specifically for the mathematics classroom. I really like his ideas and concepts.

There are a couple of points that appear as statements that I think deserve to be fleshed out in greater detail.

Change their beliefs about math

Unfortunately, I see an underlying assumption here. While there are many students that don’t like mathematics, how about the kid like me that loved doing it? What would my belief change to? More importantly, just how would someone go about this – and doing so without dissing previous teachers in the process?

I’ve always wondered about the “beliefs about math” and wonder if it differs in grades 3, 6, 9 in Ontario over the other grades because of the impending year of preparing for the test. I think that would make for a great research study.

Establish expectations by painting a picture of what math class will look like

I’m curious about this one too – will all classes look the same? Will they all be functionally the same? Do you address homework while painting this picture?


“The More Strategies, the Better?”

There were three things that stood out to me in Mark Chubb’s post. He does use mathematics and a specific example for his purpose in the post.

  1. Is there value in knowing more than one way to solve a problem? I’d guess that the experienced mathematics teacher would argue yes until they’re blue in the face
  2. Mark does make reference to strategies that are “early understanding” versus those that are “sophisticated”. How does a student appreciate this? Does “sophisticated” equate to being more difficult? I had a university professor who just exuded a love for mathematics and the only word that I could think of for what he did when solving a problem was “elegance”. How do you get students so learned that their solutions become elegant?
  3. I really like the fact that Mark includes this in his post.
    “Have discussions with other math educators about the math you teach”
    Do you do that or do you just assume that you’re the teacher and there’s no room to grow and learn?

This is a wonderful post for anyone to read and understand. I can’t help but think of the teacher who is teaching mathematics for the first time. How do you bring them along and witness the wisdom and insights of experiences teachers?


Taking Old Town Road to School

Search YouTube for “Old Town Road” and sit back to see the many versions – live, karaoke, parode, etc. of the song.

Here’s another idea that’s also a great lesson for the classroom.

Then, check out the tags from this post from the Association for Media Literacy.

21st Century Literacies, association for media literacy, audience, codes and conventions, lil nas x, media literacy education, neil andersen, old town road

The post gives a wonderful lesson about how to take an original work and remix it so that it’s yours and address so many things along the way!

Need the lyrics – click here.

This whole activity just sounds like a whack of fun.


Your call to action this Friday morning —

  1. Read and enjoy the original posts
  2. Follow these bloggers on Twitter
    1. @acampbell99
    2. @mechsymp
    3. @MzMollyTL
    4. @jcasatodd
    5. @MathletePearce
    6. @MarkChubb3
    7. @A_M_L_

This post originally appeared on

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Friday before the long weekend. I hope that you can check out these posts over the weekend. I think you’ll find them very inspirational. I know that I did.


Virtual Reality in the Math Class: Moving from Abstract to Concrete

I’ve been playing around with Virtual Reality off and on ever since I heard of the concept. Most of the applications are pretty predictable – you know – explore a world that may or may not exist in real life because you can. You might experience something unique and different.

One thing that I’ve tried every now and again with limited success is to create my own virtual reality environment. I think that would be the ultimate use of technology and the concept. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is something that I need to grow in to and to have better equipment.

But, back to this post from Deborah McCallum. Her posts are always inspirational and have me thinking about things I might not have ordinarily thought of.

She was inspired by a post from Kyle Pearce about moving from the concrete to the abstract in mathematics. She talks about the opposite – going in the other direction – from abstract to concrete. I like her thinking and it enhances the original thoughts from Kyle’s post.

I think that this may be a new frontier for exploration. In Kyle’s original post, he uses a doughnut example. I think I’d really enjoy Deborah taking on the opposite direction and perhaps show how a concrete approach could turn into consolidation. And, what sort of gear would be required.

Is there room for both Kyle and Deborah’s thinking? I think so.


Momentum and the positive side of constraints

As Beate Planche correctly notes, education is full of constraints – resources, time, and priorities. It doesn’t take too much thinking before you can identify them.

I find time to be interesting. In a perfect world, it should meld to be just the required length. The reality is far from it. If you have a 75 minute class, darn it, everyone is going to be there for 75 minutes. Not a minute more; not a minute less. It doesn’t matter if you don’t need that time, you’ve got to be there anyway. The opposite to that would be the concept of an EdCamp where you can use your feet to move to a different topic if you’ve got the current one mastered. Yet, there’s the classroom where the concept of mastery is the same length for everyone!

Like the canvas analogy she uses at the conclusion, it’s not the canvas that should be of concern; it’s a constraint, it’s what you do with it that matters. Complainers would complain about the size of the canvas and it’s limits; the innovative would think about how to make the best of what’s available.

When you get your head around the reality that whatever constraints you face are real and you look at ways to work within them, momentum becomes possible.


Another Day another EdTech conference! #ECOOCamp 2019

ECOOCamp Owen Sound

So, I found a pair of blog posts from two of the people that helped make the #ECOOcamp a success – one from Jen Giffen and the other from Ramona Meharg.

They had different types of contributions – Jen was one of the keynote speakers and Ramona was a workshop presenter (x4).

Participants had the opportunity to learn from either or both of them.

I thought about the difference between their contributions. Jen would have had to have a message prepared that would have reached out and touched everyone in her keynote address. They might have been secondary school or elementary school educator as their background or an administrator. The message would have to be crafted to appeal to everyone if she’s going to be successful.

Ramona, on the other hand, would have had smaller, more focused sessions. People would have been with her because they were interested in the particular topic that she was addressing. And, they could vote with their feet if they were ready to move on.

A tale of two approaches certainly and both would be necessary for a successful day for participants. A common thread though, they both left having learned enough to comment on a presentation from Leslie Boerkamp and Nicole Batte. The leaders become the learners. Does it get much better than that?

I created a Wakelet of the Twitter conversation about the #ECOOcamp so that you can read what people were saying about the day! https://wke.lt/w/s/P5Md2L


99 Needs and They’re All Student Related

Those that question the passion behind teaching need to read this post from Karaline Vlahopoulos.

First year teaching = VERY overwhelmed. Love listening to your discussions. Awesome words from two awesome people.— Karaline Vlahopoulos (@KaralineVla) May 15, 2019

Despite this level of “overwhelmedness” (is that even a word?), Karaline’s post overflows with passion.

She describes the thrill that she gets when students return to class on Mondays, excited to share their weekend…

She wants to make the kindergarten experience memorable…

She worries about students who have left her…

Don’t ever question her passion.


My ‘Why?’ …

Laura Elliott gives us a look inside the teaching profession that those on the outside might never realize. I don’t think I even thought about this until I landed my first job and had my own classes.

I think I probably entered the profession figuring that the toughest thing in a teenager’s school day was learning the content that I was teaching.

Laura opens our eyes to much more than that. Every teacher knows this – you’re with those students as they’re learning about themselves, about others, the interpersonal relationships, and so much more.

Laura’s focus in this post is about understanding their body. She speaks from experience having this directed her way from a gymnastics coach.

I will never forget my coach yelling into the change room during a snack break that he could “hear me getting fatter.” Wtf!?

If you’re a teacher, you need to read this to affirm that those things that you’re doing beyond your subject are so important. Students may not show up in your class because of this, but they can leave with so much more.

You might even shed a tear.


Water Walking

This post from Peter Cameron could easily pass as a tourist post for his beautiful area of the province.

Living in Thunder Bay, at the head of Lake Superior, provides ample opportunity to experience water at its finest. Cascading over large slabs of granite, tumbling over waterfalls, trickling through a moss lined creek or lapping at a sandy shore, water does something for my soul.

Peter takes this background and explains how it has impacted his teaching and his approach to the Junior Water Walker philosophy. I was going to use the word “project” but his approach indeed goes further than that – it truly is a philosophy that has had a big impact on his teaching.

Visit his blog, read his words, and use the images of his students to understand the complete package.


Every time I write this Friday post, I marvel at the depth and dedication to the teaching profession that come through in the thoughts featured. This week is no different. Please take a moment and enjoy the blog posts from these educators.

And, follow them on Twitter.

This post originated at:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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