This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to this blog and a regular post around here. Friday mornings are an opportunity to take a look at a number of blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. They’re always inspirational so let’s go…


Educational Bourgeoisie

Tim King was the guest host this week on the This Week in Ontario Edublogs radio show on voicEd radio. We talked about this post, inspired by a podcast that he did with his wife Alanna and his reading of Starship Troopers.

Tim sees a lot of parallels between the book and his life and shares them with us. In particular, “Everybody works, everybody fights”. Does that apply to education?

Tim uses this as an opportunity to think about teachers in Ontario that aren’t in classrooms. He estimates this to be 20%. He feels that when cuts come along, they apply to the classroom and the 20% bourgeoisie are unaffected.

As a person who spent part of my career in that 20% group, I know that we all have challenges in education. When you’re not providing a viable service to those who are in the classroom, it’s only fair that stones are thrown.

I wonder though … given that there is a desire for student population in classrooms to be at 15 … are there enough teachers available to hire or will the districts use those bodies at the board office to help with numbers. It will be a real statement on how a system values those in those positions.


Stunt Riding is Easier Than You Think in Ontario (and everywhere else evidently)

Tim actually has a couple of blogs. In addition to Dusty World where I pulled in that first post, he also blogs at Mechanical Sympathy. A recent post there has me thinking and wondering even more – on a different topic.

Tim tells a story about a motorcycle outing (complete with pictures) which lead to a discussion with another biker.

There was someone that ended up getting a Stunt Driving ticket for standing on the pegs of his motorcycle. If found guilty, the penalties are pretty severe and expensive.

Until this point, my understanding of stunt driving had been about those who get caught on the 401 particularly around Chatham for doing excessive speeds.

It never occurred to me that standing up on the pegs was problematic. I’ve seen it all the time and just figured that it was a chance to “unstick” yourself or, er, um, air things out. I would have thought some consideration would have been given to what the person was actually doing while in this position. I could see if you were swerving or driving dangerously otherwise. A ticket for that makes sense.

Tim takes on the situation and the Ontario laws in this post.


Scared, But Certain

Aviva Dunsiger is a person who I would suggest is one of the most positive and upbeat educators I know. Read her blog and you’ll see that she generally loves her job and enjoys her interactions with children.

In fact, at times, I wonder to myself if she’d feel the same way in a Grade 11 mathematics classroom. She makes reference to a blog post from here where I had noted that hugs are often currency in the younger years. I can honestly say it isn’t in Grade 11.

Teaching is an acquired taste!

School re-opening in whatever shape it occurs in Ontario and Hamilton-Wentworth will undoubtedly be different.

So, back to her title – in the post she lets us know that she’s scared and for sure questioning things but she’s certain that she’s going to make it work.


Black Hands Doing Mathematics

This post from Idil Abdulkadir left me with my mouth open just a bit when she described an observation made by her students.

Using a document camera to demonstrate things in her classroom is a way of getting the job done. I get that. I used to use an overhead projector all the time. It’s a great way to do things; you never turn your back on a class and you’re able to recognize hands that go up or puzzled faces immediately. Personally, I also found it easier to write neatly than on a chalkboard. My older technology didn’t try to do anything fancy; it just took what was there and projected it.

But her students noticed that something that was happening in Ms. Abdulkadir’s class that wasn’t in others. The camera was adjusting the colour balance because of the colour of her hands. Let that sink in for a minute.

There’s a lot of ways that this could be interpreted but she felt that it means something.

I want my students to see Black hands doing delicate work.
I want my students to see Black hands solving equations.
Black fingers counting.
Black hands doing mathematics.
Black hands making beautiful things.
Black hands and Black people thriving.

To that, I would add “I want students to see Black hands writing computer programs”.


Tents

Lisa Corbett missed the opportunity to talk about her son being a “child of the corn” when making an emergency pit stop. There were trees though.

The tree in question was near the community arena’s parking lot and that led to some observations and some social understanding during this time of COVID. Like every arena in the province, there was no ice, and the facility was used to give the homeless a place to isolate.

Now that the municipal plan of using the arena from April to June is over, those who would normally use the service have to look for other places. Lisa uses the opportunity to talk about the invisible homeless.

They’re there in every community. COVID has eased but has not gone away. Perhaps this will force communities to come to grips with this issue in a more permanent way.


AVOID THE SUMMER SLUMP: FOR SECONDARY STUDENTS

Although I had talked about this post from Alanna King in a previous post, it never was done on the TWIOE podcast. Tim wanted to give his lovely wife a shout out, so we did.

In the post, she offers three recommendations for secondary school students for the summer.

  • Read widely
  • Read Canadian
  • Buy yourself a new notebook

You can’t argue with that logic so it doesn’t hurt to repeat it. As I rethink this post, it may be even more relevant. As Tim noted during the show, he noted a drop off in student engagement with the Minister of Education indicated that marks wouldn’t count.

So, perhaps the Summer Slump started for some students even earlier than usual.

C’mon students – take her advice.


Math Links for Week Ending Jul. 24th, 2020

I’m guessing that I’m part of the choir that David Petro preaches to. I enjoy his Friday look around at the world of mathematics. I do wonder about his abbreviation for July though.

This time, he’s encouraging engagement in a couple of Twitter discussions in addition to his regular collection of:

  • Resource Links
  • Video Links
  • Image Links

The discussion and images in the Image Link is a reminder that skillful people can make statistics say just about anything – including incorrect things.


Please take the time to click through and read each of these wonderful posts. Then, make sure that you’re following them on Twitter for further engagement.

  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Tim King – @mechsymp
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Idil Abdulkadir – @Idil_A_
  • Lisa Corbett – @lisacorbett0261
  • Alanna King – @banana29
  • David Petro – @davidpetro314

This post was originally posted at:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Well, it’s been a bit of a cooler week but it sure was warm out. I hope that you were able to take advantage of it. I hope that you were also able to enjoy blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. I know I did and here’s some of what I read.


Questioning Experts More Than Expertise

Noa Daniel was guest host on This Week in Ontario Edublogs on voicEd Radio and we had a chance to talk about her latest post. It reminded me of a quote from a former superintendent to those of us in the Program Department.

An expert is someone from out of town…

I don’t know if that was an original quote or he was sharing it from someone else. His context was about paying big speaker fees to bring in someone to talk on Professional Development Days when we had the capacity already within the board. Those of us in the Program Department were to find those with the expertise and encourage them to share it with others. Why pay to bring in an “expert”?

In the post, Noa takes on her view of this and I enjoyed her thinking. I also thing that it’s more important than ever with the lack of travel bringing in “experts” to address educators. Why not work with the expertise within a district where they can address local issues directly rather than some hypothetical situation somewhere else?

Does COVID push us away from outside of town experts and towards celebrating the expertise that we are developing locally? Something to think about.


Two Approaches to Building Online Communities

Diana Maliszewski’s post follows Noa’s very nicely. I think that most of us understand the power that can come from online communities. So, how do you build that community?

Diana identifies a couple of different ways.

One is modelled by the work from Matthew Morris and Jay Williams with their #QuarantineEd initiative. It’s an online community of learners, building on the efforts of the group of contributors with a direction by Matthew and Jay. Matthew talked a bit about it when he guested on This Week in Ontario Edublogs and shared the numbers. It’s grown from an experimental conversation with TDSB educators. And, it’s caught the attention of the Toronto Star.

The second scenario is something that many of us have seen many times. An existing user will tag you or plead to the masses to follow this new account. The prudent social media user will, of course, check that person out before inviting them into your community. Many times, that person has contributed nothing to date. Why would you want to embrace them? My rule has always been “You’ve got to be interesting”.

Diana includes here thoughts; she’s a skillful navigator of social media and I think you’ll find her advice incredibly helpful.


What ARE Kids Learning?

It was great to see Stephan Pruchnicky back at the keyboard sharing thoughts again. It was kind of sad to read about why he wasn’t and I hope those days are behind him.

He’s got one message in this post and it appears in big letters.

I think it’s a great reflection point for teachers, students, and parents.

Are we so focused on teaching being covering materials specified in the Ontario Curriculum that we’ve turned a blind eye to other important things that might have been learned?

Something to think about going forward.


Forward.

I had to smile at Beth Lyon’s comment that it was only towards the end of June that she finally decided on her word of the month. You’ll recall that she didn’t choose a year long “one word” and instead opted to do one per month. Given all that’s happened, it has turned out to be a genius move.

It’s easy to lose track of time. I bought a Lotto Max ticket last Saturday and kept checking it with my OLG app, getting messages about it that seemed bizarre. Then, after a bit of thinking, I realized that it was for a draw on Tuesday and not Sunday or Monday when I was testing it. Keeping track of time is a challenge these days.

Beth makes reference to a couple of excellent blog posts from other Ontario Educators, Lisa Corbett and Amanda Potts, and uses that to force her thinking and come with a new direction for the month of July.

The post is dated July 3 so I hope she’s nicely back on track.


How To Make Math Moments From A Distance

From Kyle Pearce and Jon Orr, a really, really long blog post under their MakeMathMoments umbrella.

I’m not sure that I can truly sum it up in a paragraph or two but I really found the content interesting. It should serve as a reminder that mathematics is everywhere; it’s beautiful; and it’s really relevant.

Many of us grew up with mathematics being the stuff that is covered in mathematics textbooks. There was content, questions, and answers. For me, it was third year with Ross Honsberger in a course called “History of Mathematics” where he showed us the fun, beauty, enjoyment, and the relevance of mathematics being everywhere.

It’s such an important concept and one that lives with me and it’s easy to see mathematics everywhere. In the post, these gentlemen give us some great examples that go far beyond the typical questions you might find in a textbook. Bookmark this for future inspiration and resource.


Distance Hugs: My Self-Reg Stumbling Block

I kind of knew that Aviva Dunsiger wrote this post on the Merit Centre blog even before I read through the article.

I know Aviva to be a loving and caring teacher and I would suspect that displays of affection have a home in her kindergarten classroom. Things there are so much different from the students that I taught. My students might have had gestures of emotion but I would never expect a hug to be part of the mix.

In the offing for her and her teaching partner at the close of the school year was a thank-you gift from a student and a parent. Aviva wondered if there would be enough control for her not to hug the child or the child not to hug here. It’s an interesting and certainly relevant wonder these days.

She describes how hugs are like currency in her classroom.

  • Kids use hugs to connect with others.
  • They greet us in the morning with a hug.
  • They look for a hug when they’re sad, scared, angry, tired, or hurt.
  • Hugs comfort many of our students, especially in that first month of school, when leaving home is one of the hardest things that they have to do.

You’ll have to read the post to see what happened and Aviva’s musing about what things might look like in the future.


WRITING: PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

It takes a brave person to write a summary about a blog post talking about writing but here goes…

On the TESL Ontario blog, Milica Radisic takes on the topic of writing and I found this observation interesting.

Second, since almost 90% of my students are highly educated, have done a number of university courses and presumably read a number of books, I wonder why they make mistakes that, at least to me, seem basic.

Gulp!

In the post, she shares her thoughts about

  • Run-on Sentences
  • Commas
  • Transition Words

I wonder about my own writing. Quite frankly, the last time I took an English course would have been in Grade 13. There were the odd essays that I was required to do in some subjects but I missed most of that because my course choices were largely Mathematics and Computer Science. By their nature, there is writing but it’s more technical than anything else.

Since I started writing for this blog, it’s been a return back to those secondary school skills. I find that I’m using a semi-colon more than ever and I did do some research to make sure that I was using it correctly. There’s always the nagging feeling that I just might make an error and, because it’s so public, everyone would see it.

I found reading this a really reflective activity and, as a regular blogger, I do want to do my best. I hope that I can live up to this standard.


Please take some time and click through to read these posts in their original form. They’ll get you thinking.

Then, follow these writers on Twitter.

  • Noa Daniel – @noasbobs
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Stepan Pruchnicky – @stepanpruch
  • Beth Lyons – @MrsLyonsLibrary
  • Kyle Pearce – @mathletepearce
  • Jon Orr – @MrOrr_geek
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Milica Radisic – @milicaruoft

This blog post originated from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

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.