We did get away for a long full day of travel and friend meetup yesterday. Pro tip – every road that you want to go on in Huron County is under constructions. Particularly north of Bayfield, I was on concession roads that I didn’t know existed! It was a great day highlighted by lunch with some dear friends in Blyth at the Cowbell and getting a chance to see Artist’s Alley in Clinton. Of course, visiting the beaches in Grand Bend, Bayfield, and Goderich was on the itinerary.
Since the dog didn’t come with us, we took the car and listened to XMRadio the whole way. I had had this article in my mind and so the radio was stuck on Classic Rock the entire way. It was amazing to notice so many of the songs in the article being on played.
I also had Marc Hodgkinson on the mind too. Regular readers of this blog will note that I’m following his blog as he counts down the greatest 500 albums on all time, inspired by a podcast.
I couldn’t help but remark on the scope of the two posts – 50 versus 500. So, I focused on the 50 because it was easier. Whenever someone gives you their “top” list, things are always open to scrutiny. In this case, the #1 album in my opinion came in as #2. I couldn’t believe that anyone would put any band above Led Zepplin’s IV but Pink Floyd did. Not a bad choice but not the way that I would have ranked them. The standings are crowd voted so there’s still hope. I know that I checked in.
I came to album collecting late – at university. All the money that I made at high school doing jobs went to a college education. But once I got there, I was inspired by my roommate to get moving. So, we did – he had an awesome stereo in our room and we collected albums in milk crates for vertical storage and protected them with Angel Sleeves. We didn’t also want to collect pops and clicks. Who would have predicted the perfect digital world that we moved to. I still have that collection and pull albums from their to enjoy.
In addition to the album name and descriptor, the author selects a “Key Track”. That’s also up for debate in my mind.
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon – Us And Them
Led Zeppelin – IV – Stairway to Heaven
The Beatles – Abbey Road – Come Together
Led Zeppelin – II – Whole Lotta Love
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here – Shine On You Crazy Diamond
Good choices but how about?
Pink Floyd – Money
Led Zeppelin – Rock and Roll
The Beatles – Octopus’s Garden
Led Zeppelin – Ramble On
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
With a list of 50, obviously there would be some cuts. Let me add a quick six to the list.
Strawbs – Hero and Heroine = “Hero and Heroine”
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising – “Lodi”
Guess Who – American Woman – “No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature”
Supertramp – Even in the Quietest Moments – “Give a Little Bit”
Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band – Beautiful Loser – “Katmandu”
Oh man, I could keep going.
I thought that it would have been a challenge coming up with the 500 list. But the 50 list just left out some great stuff.
How about you. What would you add to a great 50 list?
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 …
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.
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
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’
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
The third Slice of Life blog post comes from Lisa Corbett. She’s been doing this for, gasp, fourteen years. 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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
Google Tour Creator
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.
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.
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.
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.
Let me tell you about dedication. After a stretch of cold weather, it’s been incredible around here. Today, I took a drive to Belle River and the marina on Lake St. Clair. I just sat there enjoying the warm and the lake and watching the people fishing. If it wasn’t for the need to get home and write this blog post, I could have stayed there overnight! But, back to work. Here’s some great content from Ontario Edubloggers.
I learned a great deal from this post from Joel McLean. Originally written in French, I let Google Chrome translate it for me. In the process, the word “corbeau“was translated both to raven and crow. Not to point fingers at Google Translate solely, Bing Translate did the same thing. Joel jumped in for clarification later in the day.
Back to the post, the other thing that I learned was that a raven is the only bird that will attack an eagle. How does the eagle handle it? You’ll have to read Joel’s post.
Above the walk through nature, Joel challenges you to think about the ravens that are on your back and attacking. How do you handle them? What are your ravens? Why are you wasting your time with the ravens?
Tim King thinks that maybe the implementation of the Quadmester might be unique to his district. I can tell you that it isn’t; I know of a number of districts that have also taken this route.
At this point, I have yet to see any educators that affirm that this is a good idea. Instead, a whole course is compressed to fit into a longer period during the day and a shorter course length. The net result is huge pressure on both students and teachers and real concerns that the content won’t be adequately learned.
In secondary schools, there are a number of courses that require specialized instructors. If you follow Tim, you know that he’s one of them. In a perfect world, there is contractual language that talks about class sizes. Have the rules changed in the time of COVID?
Tim offers his analysis of both of these topics and offers ways for it to be resolved. That may well make things even more difficult for a district to implement so I hope that Tim isn’t holding his breath.
Lynn Thomas uses this blog post to describe her walkthrough of the Learner Variability Navigator. Based on solid pedagogy, this appears to be a complete resource for educators dealing with today’s students.
As Lynn notes, these students show up for school with a lot of baggage.
Learning to speak English
Lacking background knowledge
Boredom and disengagement
Color, ethnicity, or gender making you susceptible to stereotype threat
Working memory, decoding, or attention challenges
Devastated socially and emotionally in school
Dealing with language and mathematics, this is a one stop place to embrace and understand so much. Set aside a bunch of time to work your way through this.
Again, language and mathematics are the target for this research but I could see how the elements could play out in other disciplines.
Rolland Chidiac is back and describes a wonderful opportunities for the girls in his 5 / 6 class.
With the onset of COVID, it kind of looked like it might not happen and yet, it did. Kudos for all who pull that together.
The “game” is Minecraft and the girls have the change to work with Brenda Sherry and Rolland’s Vice-Principal Sherry as mentors. With the connection through Katina Papulkas at Dell, they’re involved with Dell’s “Girls who game” initiative. Gaming?
Exciting times are ahead as the girls discover more about gaming using Minecraft as well as the Global Competencies, STEM, and future career paths that may be of interest to them.
If you think that sounds much like “a robust, full-bodied red wine”, you’re pretty close to the content of this post from Sheila Stewart!
She’s been on fire writing blog posts as of late but I ended up intrigued with this one. I’ve definitely heard of Bailey’s Irish Cream but Sheila had the opportunity to experience Cabot Trail Maple Cream, another liqueur. Just reading her post and the experiments that she’s had with it make me want to brush my teeth!
Our favourite warmup for the winter months is a mulled wine – easily made with a non-descript red wine, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. That’s our comfort drink, Sheila.
I will have to keep my eye out for her recommendation the next time I drop into the LCBO.
Following Marc Hodgkinson’s walk through Rolling Stone’s Top 500 albums has been an awesome experience for me. It also is a reminder of how long ago some of these albums actually are.
This time, it’s ZZ Top’s Eliminator.
If you are in the mood for a trip back to the fusion of blues-rock and synth-pop in 1983, give this record a listen. Better still, click on some of those video links and enjoy the cheesy decadence of a classic ZZ Top video.
For me, this brought back a smile. I moved to Essex County from an area of Canada with a much more decided Canadian taste. I was always all over them about Canadian versus American spelling. I remember a home room moment with a chat with a student who sat right in front of my teacher’s desk.
Hey, sir! Have you heard the new song from Zed Zed Top?
To his defence, they were bombarded by the Detroit media.
I always wanted a spinning guitar.
Phew! I got the post done in time to watch Thursday night football.
Please take a moment to click through and read these terrific posts. Then, follow them on Twitter.