This Week in Ontario Edublogs


On Wednesday night, we celebrated four years of the TWIOE podcast with a live show in the evening. It felt like a big deal – doing it in prime time! It was a late decision but three of the Ontario Edubloggers were free and available to join us to talk about their work and that of the others. Thanks, Jen Aston, Sue Bruyns, and Cal Armstrong. I’ve learned to give everyone more notice if we ever decide to do something like this again. All of them had great blog posts and that made it all worthwhile.


IS “TEACHING LOSS” A MYTH, TOO?

For me, this post from Pav Wander was a real thought inspiration. I read it three or four times before I think I understood her message. Then, I was ready to talk about it and write this on passage number five. I’m still not totally convinced that I’ve fully understood her message and thoughts as she covers so much here. This really goes to the essence of being a teacher.

We all start out in this profession as newbies and get better year after year. Those who take parental leave have a break in that growth that requires some catching up. Like the topic of “learning loss”, Pav identifies it as “teaching loss”. I’m wondering if another way of defining it might be “teaching slide”.

In the post, she identifies six areas of personal concern to her.

  • Making Connections with Teachers and Students
  • Leadership opportunities 
  • Professional development 
  • Testing New pedagogies 
  • Teaching evolving content 
  • Extracurricular Activities

All of the topics are fleshed out in her perspective. I can’t do her thoughts justice here – you need to read her entire post. I found the discussion of Professional Development (PD) particularly interesting since it was part of what I did for so many years. I find it ironic that she felt a personal loss there since her podcast with Chey Cheney is all about professional learning. It seems to me that the two of them have morphed from the consumer of PD to the facilitator of PD and have done so nicely. And, if you’ve every provided PD opportunities, you know that you need to do 10 hours of prep or more for every hour of delivery.

She does raise an interesting thought – school and board budgets will have balances of unspent PD monies. I can’t help but think that the first organization that is out of the blocks with face to face events will be the big beneficiaries of access to this fund.

This topic isn’t just a blog post – it’s also a podcast available here.


Red Licorice for Breakfast

As I said in the show, Jen Aston had my attention at her reference to teaching puberty online last year. I honestly had never considered this but the show has to go on. Students mature whether they’re learning at school or at home. And, expectations have to be addressed.

That was just the tip of this fantastically funny blog post. It’s her story of teaching at home with her kids who are learning and growing and going to the bathroom “Wipe my bum” while she’s doing her teaching thing. I appreciate that she took into consideration the sensitivities of a five year old who didn’t need to sit in on the details of that lesson on puberty.

I had images running through my mind as I pictured Jen’s experience – leaving the teaching chair for a minute and having one of her own kids take over her class.

During the show, she was hilariously relating these stories between outbursts of her own laughter and I’ll admit it was infectious. I had to turn off my own mic at times as I laughed along with her.

She’s looking for other stories of things going wrong differently during teaching at home. Do you have any to offer?


Back to the Beginning

I was envious of Sue Bruyns who ended her first day of classes by going to Althouse College to teach teacher candidates. I went there for Additional Qualifications courses with Professor John Walsh years ago. I remember a delightful older facilities that I’m told is really modernizing itself these days. At the time, we were also explicitly told that it was the Faculty of Education and not Althouse College.

But, 25 minutes before that class started, it ended a hectic first day of school for her at Sir Arthur Currie Public School. It’s a fantastic, new facility that any visitor just knew would be outgrown. I’ve been there twice as part of EdCamp London and you can just see the new home construction going on in the neighbourhood.

As was everywhere else in the province, it was a big and strategic opening with classes organized outside the school rather than the traditional reporting to home rooms. In her blog post, she gave the student population at 900 and corrected it to 1000 during the show. Like so many schools, it’s time for a panic call to 1-800-CALL-A-PORTAPACK.

Of course, all those students need a teacher and teachers need to park cars and you can guess the mess that creates. One of the things about Sue though is that she always seems to have things under control – you can hear it in the show – but I had to smile when she indicated that this principal also directs traffic.


How do we see students?

Jonathan So uses the word problemizing in this post and so I had to do a lookup to make sure I had it right.

Problematization of a term, writing, opinion, ideology, identity, or person is to consider the concrete or existential elements of those involved as challenges that invite the people involved to transform those situations.

It was in reference to how you react when kids just don’t get it. I suspect that many of us put the blame on the students because, after all, we taught it. They have a responsibility to learn it, right?

Jonathan digs into this in a reflection of practice that’s a good idea for all educators. Maybe it isn’t the student after all; maybe it’s your practice. And, is it amplified during times of COVID when the number of tools available to you are a subset of what you would normally have?

I also think that part of it is the type of person that becomes a teacher. We were successful in school and, when we had challenges, we knew that we had to work harder and ask questions and do some extra to get it done. That is a unique mindset and we know that not everyone has it.

There’s a great deal to think about with respect to how you teach and look at those kids in front of you.


I shall find a way…

This was a great post from Cal Armstrong that reminded me of some of the best learning that I’ve experienced reading blogs. Someone has a problem, finds, and writes to describes a solution. It’s a generous mindset; it you’ve solve a problem, why not share your problem solving for those who might have the same problem or for some people who don’t quite know that they have this problem.

The problem then?

Cal’s school has required all teachers to use a new LMS. Many people, I suspect, would say OK, I’ve got to do some learning.

Not Cal.

In this case, he’s spent years becoming an expert in the OneNote world and isn’t prepared to abandon it. He know that he’s expected to have his work in the new LMS and so goes to work to create a world where he can continue to use his skills with OneNote and just pipe it over to the LMS.

I’ve never had to work in this environment but I found that Cal’s descriptor was crisp and clear and I could see it working.

The comment to his post is testament that if you provide a tutorial good enough to work, there just may be value to others. In this case, an educator from Houston read the post and found it appropriate and let Cal know so.


Picking Out The Highlights of The Scenery

When I saw the title to Terry Greene’s recent post, I wondered – what the heck is he talking about now? Autumn wise, his neck of the woods is a couple of weeks ahead of us here so maybe …

or maybe a reference to Gord Downie …

Terry’s latest work is titled: Ontario Extend: Liberated Learners Edition

I’m intrigued because his earlier work gave us a collection of post-secondary bloggers and reflectionists that got us into their minds.

At this point, he shares some stories that resulted from “Wicked Problems”.

  • Anti-Social Sociology Major
  • Crayola markers got me through the first year of University
  • Captain Depresso
  • Teaching Incon-(ass)istant
  • Extra-Curricular Extremist
  • Fake It Till You Make It
  • The Social Caterpillar
  • zzZZzzzzZoom University
  • Fishing for 60’s

How to access these and how to access a series of community webinars can be found in the post.


NEW GOOGLE SMART CHIPS TO LEVEL UP YOUR HYPERDOCS

The EduGals are back with an interesting post. They had me at HyperDocs because it’s a strategy that I firmly believe it. It’s also a strategy that has been abused and ended up being simply an electronic worksheet. I know the works of the EduGals, Rachel and Katie, wouldn’t be that shallow.

It’s a rather long post but I think worth taking the time to read and understand. They talk about the concept of the Smart Chip and its functionality before turning to HyperDocs. I got interested in the concept years ago through WebQuests.

A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web. The model was developed by Bernie Dodge at San Diego State University in February, 1995 with early input from SDSU/Pacific Bell Fellow Tom March, the Educational Technology staff at San Diego Unified School District, and waves of participants each summer at the Teach the Teachers Consortium at The Thacher School in Ojai, California.

I think that the notion is more important than ever. Anyone can create a worksheet that has answers easily found by Google but when you ask them to take those answers and create something new, it gets really powerful.

I’ve been working my way through the EduGals’ post and appreciate their push to make me do some new learning.


Oh, yes, it’s another collection of inspiration for you to do some professional learning as a result. To continue the discussion, follow these folks on Twitter.


  • Pav Wander – @PavWander
  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Jen Aston – @mmejaston
  • Jonathan So – @mrsoclassroom
  • Cal Armstrong – @sig225
  • Terry Green – @greeneterry
  • Edugals – @Edugals

This week’s show on voicEd Radio:

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


This week, Aviva Dunsiger joined the Wednesday morning live show to talk about a nice collection of blog posts, including one of her own.


To Buy Or Not To Buy? Clothing, COVID, And Unexpected Decisions.

Aviva and I debated about whether or not to include this post from her blog. We had a couple of dueling blog posts about clothing and so it seemed like fun just to continue the discussion a bit further. Her take was on her personal purchases for the fall.

In her post, she talked about buying a poncho. Now, when I think poncho, I think of that yellow one I got when I was safety patrol in elementary school. I had the primo location at the corner of Highway 8 and East Street which probably means nothing to you. But, there’s something powerful about stopping traffic on a highway so that kids could cross the road.

And, it actually made sense when she itemizes the work hazards of a kindergarten teacher…

  • paint,
  • mud,
  • time spent on the floor,
  • time spent outside (in all weather),
  • and creepy crawly critters

But no, this was a classier poncho and she includes a selfie of it in the post if you’re interested and shared with us some tricks for keeping it clean. Time will tell.


Editing

Of course, it would take an English teacher to actually “love” document editing. Apparently, she also has a “face” for editing that is recognizable. Amanda Potts is that person.

It’s one of the things that I hated doing in school. It seemed like a mostly redundant step, particularly exercises where we had to create a rough draft, edit it with the appropriate symbols, and then produce a perfect final product. I looked around and found this guidance of the editing symbols that we should know.

Proofreading and Editing Symbols

At the time, if you asked me what editing was for, my response probably would have been “marks” and I wouldn’t be far wrong. Amanda threw in a bit of a twist that makes sense and I wonder if I would have been more appreciative of editing at the time if I had only realized that editing is “growing a story”. Now that I try to blog daily, I get it. I do go from a rough document, edit it, proofread it, and then click Schedule to have it appear.

The deviance from the skills that I learned in school though is that my editing is now done on computer and mostly in the WordPress editor. Since it’s online, I think I still mentally use the editing tools but keyboard and mouse and “just in time” edits as I proofread.


Gawd I want to teach poetry

Alanna King just wants to teach poetry and she writes a poem in this post to tell us why. I didn’t fully appreciate her genius because I first read the poem in my RSS reader which is all about the text and not the format. It was only when I went to her blog to read that I really “got it”.

Teachers working in the summer is always a bone of contention amongst those in the profession and people that interact with them. Yes, they do have their two or three weeks of vacation and down time but everyone does. The rest of the time, you’ll find teachers taking courses, curating resources, purging outdated materials, doing research for new courses/grades, and now more than ever interacting with other educators online building capacity with each other.

I’m sure that those who talk about not working in the summer also think that the daily workload of a teacher is from 9-3. The profession is far more than performing when there is an audience in the classroom.

I had to smiled at the comment “How do I get an A?”. Every teacher gets that question at some point and often repeatedly. The answer is actually quite simple and not what a student expects. When they ask that question, I often felt that the real question was “How much effort do I have to put forth in your class?”


A Canadian Student Bill of Rights

Back to back with Alanna’s post is Tim King’s post. If you’ve ever been to Castle King and seen their workspace, you’ll see what I did there.

Tim has an interesting muse in this post about taking the arbitrary decision taking choice away from politicians or at least keep them in tune with the rights of students for a just and fair education. My first thought was this was like the powers given to male politicians over female reproduction rights.

I think it would be an interesting exercise to track a student from Kindergarten to their ultimate workspace and note the changes in education that they’ve been subjected too. How many are positive; how many are negative; how many are inspired by a search for perfection; how many are inspired by budget decisions … I’m not sure that we’d be comfortable with the results. Maybe Tim does have a valid point.

If there’s anything good about COVID, it’s that we’ve seen…

  • a serious look at retirement homes and how our elderly are treated
  • better housing for migrant workers
  • cleaner than ever hands
  • ventilation in schools
  • the difficulties of putting 35 students in a classroom built for 24 and then wonder why 2 metres distancing isn’t possible

You’d think those would be basic rights but they aren’t in actual practice.


It Is More Than Just SEL!

Social Emotional Learning is the starting point for this post from Rola Tibshirani and it follows nicely from Tim’s post. A key point from Rola’s post that resonated with me is the guidance from her district.

  • Be Community
  • Be Well
  • Be Innovative

Rola’s post would be important at any opening to a school year. I would suggest that it’s incredibly important as schools open this fall. I would hope that people aren’t planning to “hit the ground running” with academics that first day.

Of respect to the learners that will be back in classrooms, it will be more important than ever to think about the physical and mental conditions that they’ll be in as things resume as close to normal as they can be.

This is a long post and Rola punctuates it with some interesting graphics and infographics, some of which you may not have seen before.

When you read the post, make absolute certain that you go right to the bottom and read Hip Hop Theatre by Avery. It pretty much sums up where your students are coming from and may help you centre things those first days of school.


Five Reasons To Attend The 2021 TESL Ontario Annual Conference

The TESL Annual Conference will be held in November. Details and registration are available here.

It’s their 49th conference and it will be online – I hope that they’ll be in a position to have number 50 face to face.

The five reasons?

1. Three days of learning, knowledge exchange and professional development.
2. A chance to make valuable “Career Connections.”
3. Networking, networking, networking.
4. Giveaways and prizes.
5. The convenience of going virtual.


Crocheting and Math

Earlier this month, I took at look at Terry Whitmell’s post about Quilting and Mathematics.

Side note – my wife just came in and saw my computer screen – “You’re looking at afghans?” It’s a reminder to keep your eyes open and close tabs when you have visitors!

No, I said. “I’m looking at mathematics”. The response “you’re such a teacher”.

Well, actually, it’s Terry who is the teacher here. This is a wonderful read with all kinds of pictures of her craft and the mathematics story behind them. There’s even a mobius strip. When will we ever use this stuff? Who knew one of the answers would be crocheting.

Mathematics is indeed everywhere; you just have to keep your eyes open to see and appreciate it. Very nicely done, Terry.


There’s your Friday morning reading.

Next up? Follow these great bloggers on Twitter.

  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Alanna King – @banana29
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Rola Tibshirani – @rolat
  • TESLOntario – @TESLOntario
  • Terry Whitmell – @TerryWhitmell

This week’s voicEd Radio show is here.

https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/new-clothes-poetry-editing-and-more/

Opening Song

Closing Song

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Paul McGuire guest hosted the voicEd Radio show this week. To the conversation, he added a blog post, insights as an educator, Principal, and Faculty Advisor, and a couple of songs in his new role as an Old Fellas, New Music blogger.


Feeling our Pain

We started the show with this post from Paul’s blog. Reading it may well be the best thing that you can do for yourself today.

Paul was very open and insightful with some of the challenges that people have in education at times, amplified during COVID times with anxiety and depression. There was a great deal of inspiration for how to cope at these times. As schools reopen in September, you just know that there will be more.

Paul’s done his research and shares some external excerpts to support his post. The biggest takeaway might well be being fully aware – of that colleague in the corner, that little girl in the second row, or that face you see in the mirror.

He asks “Could this be a dialogue?” Absolutely – it always should have been and if we need to lean on COVID as the motivator, do it.


Slice of Life: Not ready

When I read the title to this post from Lisa Corbett, I expected a fun article outlining the nerves that teachers have as they prepare for September. Goodness knows that I had them every year.

The inspiration here though was from a child’s birthday and a thunderstorm. Lisa had friends over, presumably to have the party in the backyard but that was only a plan. The lightning scuttled it.

Instead, the kids came inside and kids are kids. Loud and very active and this was an experience that Lisa hadn’t had for a long time. Paul pulled this quote from her post.

It’s the whole “dealing with other humans who don’t live with me” thing that has me feeling like hiding in the basement instead.

Premonition? Throw in a “close talker” or two and we can understand why she’s not ready.


It’s August Already

It was great to see Matthew Morris back at the keyboard and blogging again.

This time, he’s noting how July flew by. I’ve called this the month that the Minister stole from the system by promising “the plan” only to have it arrive in August.

Again, Paul pulled an interesting quote from this post.

I’m ready for August but not ready for much beyond that. That makes me queasy. The more I try to decompress the more I tighten up. I’m not used to this. I’m used to thinking; about school, and plans, and predictions. But this shit right here is brand new to me.

August isn’t really a good time for the conscientious educator at the best of times but this year is a totally new experience. Anxiety is higher than ever and Matthew throws in something I hadn’t thought about – being out of school for so long, he’s afraid that he might not recognize the students.

The big saviour will be that first day of school. Once those bodies arrive, teaching kicks in despite all of the other things that are happening. Teachers will be dealing with a new environment to be sure, but that’s been expected all along.


In Search of Creativity in Education

I won’t quote all that Paul pulled from Dave Cormier’s post. You’ll have to click through and read it all. It is worth the click.

Dave’s been asked by the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation – CERI to develop a curriculum piece that he’s calling Creating Creativity in the Online Classroom. Think about that for a second – it seems so counter-intuitive to be but Ontario Educators have been doing action research on this since the first lockdown.

We know that the talking head at the podium doesn’t work in the face to face classroom or at conferences and the windowed version of teaching online sure doesn’t work either. Teachers have been imagining all kinds of ways to engage students despite the conditions.

Dave equates creativity with fun and it’s easy to see how that connection can be made face to face. Online is a whole different ball game.

I think that this is huge job but Dave is an excellent choice as he seems to like to think about things like this. I’ve been a fan of his work for a long time now.

He’s identified these issues going into this.

  • The nature of creativity and the balance between a teacher’s sense of creativity and different sense of it in different students
  • The relationship between ill-defined problems and the kind of engagement that leads to the fostering of creativity
  • The challenges and opportunities of doing creativity with access to such an abundance of influences.

This is one to follow. It’s something that the Ministry and/or subject organizations should be following and seriously buying into.


The Truths About Self-Regulation & Maths

Tina Bergman inspired me to write an entire “fun” post about mathematics yesterday. (Click back if you’re interested)

In the post, Tina analyses a piece of work (Chapter 7 from Reframed). In particular, these five steps:

  • Step 1 Asking Why (History) Recognizing Stressors
  • Step 2 Reframing the Anxiety
  • Step 3: Aware of the Why and THAT
  • Step 4:Reducing the Stress
  • Step 5: Developing Pre and Post Strategies to Restore Blue/Red Brain Balance

I thought it was a good discussion and she’s really thought this through.

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed mathematics and saw it more like a series of puzzles instead of a curriculum. In the way of good puzzles, I understood that I couldn’t solve them all and learned to be good with not getting 100%. I found myself actively nodding when she talked about “play”.

We live in a different world with all the pressure put on teachers and students by the curriculum and schools and a community that isn’t hesitant to speak about their own challenges with mathematics.


A Journey: Student to Teacher & What Lies Beneath

This was an interesting post from Heather Lye about her personal philosophy and trek from, as she says, “Student to Teacher”.

Reading the post was a wonderful reminder of how teaching is truly a higher calling for those who enter and wish to be the best educator they can. In Heather’s case, she respects her own teachers

I’ve had many great teachers in my past that have impacted my decisions – I cannot wait to make them proud.

The post covers her personal thoughts about:

  • Care
  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Integrity

Use the post to see her thoughts and maybe inspire a refresher of your own reasons why you went into the profession.


THE YEAR TEACHING AND LEARNING CHANGED

I think that this post from Bei Zhang writing on the TESLOntario blog closes off this week’s collections of posts so nicely.

  • Fears Are Okay
  • Challenges Push Us to Move Forward

These two major points and subsequent thoughts are a reminder than it’s normal to feel the way that you do and secondly, this is why educators didn’t pack up everything and check out. Instead, they dug in and made the best happen.

All teachers (and students) have had to endure challenges and huge learning just to get connected and make it work at times. Bei throws kudos to the ESL teachers and students for their efforts.


Please take the time to click through and read all these terrific blog posts. Then, follow these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Dave Cormier – @davecormier
  • Tina Bergman – @blyschuk
  • Heather Lye – @MsHLye

This week’s voicEd Radio show:

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


This week’s voicEd Radio show featured Pav Wander and Chey Cheney as guest hosts. They inspired some great conversations and we went well over the hour time limit. If it didn’t all get played live, it is available for playback as a podcast – link below.


Tightrope

Chey and Pav have a rather unique blog. Yes, we’ve looked at a couple of their blog posts in the past but generally, they don’t write the posts themselves.

Instead, they open the blog to anyone who was inspired by their podcasts to share their feelings via a post. As noted on the show and a few times, there is no gatekeeper and so they welcome friendly replies and those from others who challenge them.

In Episode 90 of The Staff Room Podcast, they talked about dealing with the topic of racism and oppression with students. The timing of the podcast was important as it was near the end of the school year and they were reflecting on incidents that had happened in Ontario at the time.

In response to the post, Manuel Garcés Jr. wrote a response. But it was no normal response; in this case he responded with a poem that forces you to slow down to read and interpret its meaning.


Strum Into Song

Earlier this week, Noa Daniel sent me a link to a YouTube video. Now, we all know and love Noa but my first reaction with any link sent to me – I check it out very carefully to make sure that it’s not a scam. It wasn’t.

Instead, it was a video that was crafted to support her recent book publication.

Around here, it was an instant ear worm.

In the post, Noa shares with us how the video came from an idea to the final product. I was impressed with the connections and how her community came together to make it happen. It’s a great read.

In addition to the story and the video, Noa shares with the community access to a mailing list where ideas for using the book and video will be distributed. If you’re a musician yourself, there’s also a link to the sheet music so that you play it yourself.

As Pav said on the radio show, this blog post reads like it is the liner notes to the song.


How I Approach the First Days and Weeks of School

Yeah, it’s closing in on that time of year. Many people are putting together their plans for the opening of school and Shawna Rothgeb-Bird shares her thoughts and idea for her French Immersion classroom.

I would suspect that everyone will be subjected to rules and criteria for what can happen so these plans may change as September draws closer. It’s an interesting read. As a secondary school teacher, I didn’t have the same type of schedule so I was really interested in the power of her approach to unstructured outdoor play.

I was reminded of this Yogi Berra quote.

“You can observe a lot by just watching.”

Shawna explains what’s she’s observing a watching outside.

  • Who already has a social group?
  • Who doesn’t seem to have many connections in the class?
  • What kinds of activities do they choose?
  • Who prefers to hang out with me and chat?
  • Who ignores all of the equipment and opts to sit down and read, walk and talk, etc. instead?

Timing, Tracking, and Tiring

In typical Diana Maliszewski fashion, this weekly post from her is complex and touches on a number of issues.

Her commitment to the teacher-librarian community is evident in the learning opportunities that she’s affording educators this summer. She’s involved in two learning events.

  • ETFO Academy “SA-04-22 SEEING AND SUPPORTING STUDENT GROWTH: NEW PERSPECTIVES ON ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION”
  • Queen’s University Teacher-Librarianship Part 1 AQ
  • and she’s agreed to run another late summer one as well

There’s also a section in her about her caring for herself with physical fitness. Like most people, she’s been challenged by the inability to get to her gym and so shares a long story about that. I suspect that she’s writing for many people with the same perspective.


Quilting and Math

When my wife and I were first going out, it was very common to go into her family’s rec room where her mother would have a quilt on the go. It took up most of the room but it was worth it. The efforts, as it was all done by hand, were terrific. There typically was a solid back and then patchwork on the front gathered from scraps of materials.

As a mathematics nerd, I’d look for patterns in the quilt and often would see them. All of us were gifted with one of these hand made treasures at one point.

If you drive in Kent County, there’s another chance to appreciate the artwork in quilts along the Barn Quilt Trail. It’s an interesting opportunity to drive along and be inspired by these pieces of art.

In this blog post, Terry Whitmell puts another interesting twist to the artistry that goes into quilting. She starts with the mathematics and products a quilt devoted to displaying the mathematics. The post is an interesting read of the process and also includes the use of an Excel worksheet.

The real beauty is that she shares some pictures of the final products. So, if you’re interested in seeing what the Golden Ratio or Fibonacci Sequence looks like as a quilt, click through and see.


SUMMER READING LIST FOR TEACHERS – E054

From the EduGals, Katie Attwell and Rachel Johnson, a podcast and a blog post of books that they’re reading and what they would recommend for other educators to read.

There are some familiar titles in the list and, for me, some new ones.

This is the sort of post to pass along to your school’s community or teacher-librarian to have included in the community’s professional resources.


The 500 – #359 – Honky Chateau – Elton John

I’ve never had the opportunity to see Elton John live in concert. But, my record collection certainly contains his content as well as my CD collection. It just sounds old typing that…

But, this album goes back to 1972. Wow.

It appears in the top 500 list of all time best albums that Marc Hodgkinson found and is now blogging his way through. This really was an awesome listening experience.

Thanks to YouTube, we can enjoy a couple of the songs from that album.

How many times have we seen Rocket Man used as a sound track in other media?


I hope that you can find the time to click through and read all these great blog posts. Then, follow these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Chey Cheney – @mrccheney
  • Pav Wander@PavWander
  • Noa Daniel – @iamnoadaniel
  • Shawna Rothgeb-Bird – @rollforlearning
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Terry Whitmell – @TerryWhitmell
  • EduGals – @edugals
  • Marc Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher

The voicEd Radio show

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Melanie White joined Stephen Hurley and me on the radio show this week. It was a great opportunity for discussion and, just like her blogging, her thoughts had me thinking afterwards. That’s always a good thing.

Here are the blog posts that we chatted about on the show and a couple bonus ones.


Resonances #SOL2021

It was a week of vacation and then Melanie White and colleagues were back at it, lesson planning. This time, they’re working on a Grade 9 destreamed grade 9 English classes. I think we’re all aware of what’s going to happen with Grade 9 Mathematics and, if successful, the concept will probably extend to other subject areas and English certainly would be one of them. As I read this, I thought they were just getting ahead of the game.

Then, her discussion turned to music. I initially thought that was a strange twist until I realized that I’m listening to music as I type this. It’s how I work best so why not others. It resonated with Melanie:

To resonate is to vibrate, to reverberate, to carry across, to understand.

She closes with an interesting thought about the sounds of music and voice and how they resonate with her. I couldn’t have said it so eloquently and I think she totally nailed it. In the show, we touched on the difference between digital and everything else when it came to music.


The power in gathering 

I’ve heard and used the expression, “when you get the right people in the right place at the same time, amazing things happen”. I don’t know who to attribute it to but it rings so true to me.

For Ann Marie Luce, it started online with a group of “bad-ass women leaders striving to disrupt and change the landscape for other women leaders” and she describes the process that ended up in a face-to-face meeting.

Their focus?

  • Challenging the status quo
  • Making room at the table for other women 
  • Mentoring women of all ages
  • Empowering women 
  • Sponsoring women
  • Asking difficult questions
  • Getting uncomfortable 
  • Pushing limits, boundaries, and thinking
  • Wanting more and demanding more
  • Speaking up
  • Using our singular and collective voices. 
  • Gathering with other women in the community.
  • Journeying together
  • Being vulnerable 

It’s such a powerful list. The one that really struck me was about “gathering with other women in the community”. Years ago, through a partnership with IBM, we sponsored a “Women in Technology” program for Grade 7 and 8 girls. They were excused from their regular class to work with a group of women from the community. The product was to produce a webpage but the real magic happened just with the discussion amongst them with their mentor. My part was in the organizing and to bring the snacks. Then, I left. The feedback from teachers, mentors, and the students themselves was overly positive. I did have an inside to what was going on; my daughter a university student at the time, shared her experience. She felt it so overwhelmingly positive.

So yes, Ann Marie, continue to collect these bad-ass disruptors.


Decodable Texts and Other Reading Programs? What is the difference?

I learned so much from this post from Deborah McCallum. I think I knew much of the basic concepts going into the post but I’ve never taught in this area so it was really at a cursory level.

In the post, she explains how decodable texts work as well as leveled reading programs. Somehow, I guess, they were all tied together but it’s much deeper than that. I can understand now Reading is an additional qualifications course.

There are some links in the blog post to free decodable resources if you’re looking for them.

She had me thinking about my own process of learning how to read. I don’t recall any particular issues but I learned how to read better when I bought a book at Coles that taught me how to speed read. Deborah’s post had me smiling when I thought about this; I haven’t heard anyone talking about speed reading for years. Maybe it was just a fad that I jumped on at the time?

Melanie left this link in our show notes – it’s long but a good read – https://ila.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/rrq.411


Le check-in: stratégie indispensable pour le leader

I’m not sure that I have much to add to this post from Joel McLean except that he absolutely nails it.

Personally, I had a supervisor who was absolutely terrific with this. We would meet as a group of people from our department and then he and I would meet one-to-one and discuss exactly what Joel outlines in the post.

  • What are your priorities this week?
  • In what ways can I help you?

I value those meetings. It was the first time that I felt that someone else was sincerely interested in what I was doing and that he had the power (and budget) to make it happen. This included sending me to leadership opportunities as well.

In his retirement, I still get together every now and again for a coffee and darn if he doesn’t include these questions as part of our discussion. It was a special bond that we have and I’ll be eternally grateful for it.


SUMMER PLANS: TRANSITIONING FROM WORK TO A VACATION MINDSET

Writing on the TESL Blog, Svjetlana Vrbanic offers some insights about how to get away from work and move to vacation.

In a regular world, it might be a great deal easier. After all, you see the school in your rear view mirror and head to the comfort of home. This past year has melded those two environments. People have purchased more technology and comfy workspaces for working at home and you can’t get away from them!

In the post, Svjetlana offers some suggestions for all to transition to vacation. It’s a good list and well worth the read.

Then, she shares with us a series of pledges to herself for how she’s going to handle her own vacation. This is a very personal post and yet I think she speaks for just about every educator in the province! They’re all in roughly the same boat at this time.


Ideas for the First Week of School

As Jennifer Casa-Todd notes, now that we’re into August, thoughts are or will be turning to the return to school. Of course, there are some schools with a different schedule who are already back at it.

I’ve heard rumours of the mindset that Jennifer talks about about “not smiling until Christmas”. I hope that it’s just that – a rumour.

Instead, she offers a better solution.

I have come to learn that serious learning can happen even if (or better if) you develop a positive relationship with your students instead.

So, how to you do that?

In the post, Jennifer offers seven suggestions and she’s looking for you to add to the list. I’d encourage it if you have some great ideas. Together, we’re better when we share.

If you’re not in the return to work mindset yet, and there’s nothing wrong with that, bookmark her post for inspiration once you’re there. It’s inevitable.


Comic Strips: Side effects

In addition to being an educator, Paul Gauchi is also a comic strip author.

I’m a fan of comic strips, particularly those that poke their finger at current events and politics. We do need more outrageous politicians this side of the border to help generate material though!

For July, Paul takes on vaccinations…


I hope that you can take a few moments and click through to read these terrific blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Ann Marie Luce – @turnmeluce
  • Deborah McCallum – @bigideasinedu
  • Joel McLean – @jprofNB
  • Svjetlana Vrbanic – @lanavrb
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @jcasatodd
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon

This Week in Ontario Edublogs – August 4