This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Another week; another collection of great blog posts from Ontario Educators.


Beginning a New Job

In a time when I’ve seen people happy to reach retirement and others who are wishing for retirement, there’s Terry Whitmell.

She’s starting a new job in educational leadership. You’ll have to read the post to find out where and what.

It was just a few weeks ago when we looked at a blog post from here talking about assisting with home schooling in kindergarten. How things can change!

I found this an interesting post to read about the things that go through an educator’s mind in a situation like this. In the post, she does break her thinking into five areas:

  • You need a lot more “stuff” to begin work in 2021, especially in a pandemic
  • You need to get to know a lot more people
  • With social media you can easily make “faux pas”!
  • It’s not as simple as “getting the keys”
  • Your identity needs to be more explicitly communicated (Terry/Theresa)

And, within each area, she shares her thinking. I’ll bet that many of the things you’ll have well under control but there may be a few items that you need to think about.

I’m sure that she would appreciate any advice in the comments to this post.


A Pedagogy of Kindness

These days, you often see this sentiment …

Laura Elliott had this sort of sentiment as she went through and redid her educational philosophy. It might seem to be a straight forward decision but Laura really describes how the sentiment applies in so many ways.

Of particular interest to me was the part of the blog post when she talked about the necessity for students to actually trust their teacher. That will make you stop and think for a bit. It seems like a simple concept but when you think of the alternatives like what would make a student mistrust a teacher, you really can see where she’s headed with this concept.

We all need inspirational moments these days; I suspect that reading and reflecting on this post will be one for you.


It’s Your Writing Spiral Now! So Then Who Am I?

There was a great deal of learning and thinking in this recent post from Jessica Outram. She has that ability as a writer.

First; I’d never heard of the word “autoethnography” so that was my starting point.

The post is full of ideas and practical motivation pieces to get you thinking about yourself as writer. I’m pretty sure she didn’t write it with me in mind but there were so many good ideas in there to ensure that I’m writing to be true to yourself.

In school, I’m not sure that that was ever true. I seem to remember that the goal was to write like some of the authors that we had been reading in class. This goes in a different direction that seems to me would be more powerful. There are elements of thinking about your own culture and its impact on you and your impact on it. I’d never really thought about it this way before.

It just makes so much sense. We all bring out own individual backgrounds to the writing process and the chances that two of us are exactly the same are slim. So, why wouldn’t this reflective approach work and work nicely?

It’s very powerful thinking. Thanks for sharing this, Jessica. Shouldn’t everyone be encouraged to write this way?


Negative/Positive

Richard Erdmann uses his blogging space to share his ongoing challenges dealing with cancer. As such, his writing is often a different vector than some of the posts that I include here. That doesn’t validate or invalidate anyone’s words but just reinforces in my mind all the positive things that can result from blogging.

In this post, he shares the results of a biopsy. The results set the tone for the negative part of this post and the resulting disappointment.

Then, he turns around with a mindset that can only be helpful. He talks about the positive things that he’s going to be doing including mindset and daily approach and the possibility that he may be admitted to a new program at Princess Margaret Hospital to try a new treatment.

I know that we all talk about Plan As and Plan Bs in our lives. Richard’s working on Plan “E”. Let’s all wish him the best and that “E” is it.


Friday Two Cents: Perseverance

Everyone who has ever been in a classroom knows the importance of March Break. The Fall session last from September to December and the excitement sustains.

Then, the return from the break in January marks a very long stretch to the end of June. It starts with the darkest days of the school year and there are are a couple of holidays but it’s always been the Spring Break that makes that chunk of time bearable.

Throw in the current stress of COVID in the classroom and you can really understand those that lament the movement of the break.

Paul Gauchi shares his thoughts about the movement of the break from March to April. In the post, he acknowledges the stress and fatigue that so many educators are enduring.

In a normal year everyone could look forward to time off  to help recharge their batteries for that final push until June.

As we know, this is anything but a normal year.


Staff Relationships: COVID Edition

I thought that this was an interesting look at the perspective from an Occasional Teacher, Melissa Turnbull. It’s not a job that I’ve ever had nor aspired to. Just covering classes internally for other teachers was challenging enough, particularly when you don’t know the subject matter.

Occasional teachers allow the school to continue though. We always treated these people as guests when they came into our department. We had an extra desk that was available should we get one on any particular day. If we had two, it went to whoever got there first! We’d give them a tour of where rooms are, where the coffee is made, etc.

But that was in a regular school environment. As with many educational things in the days of COVID, things are much different these days. This post, from the Heart and Art blog, will give you a look at what it looks now through Melissa’s eyes.

It’s also a reminder that you can never been too friendly for those guests at your school. Isolation and all the other rules that need to be observed can really push back.


A Pandemic Fugue

It had been a while since Helen DeWaard had blogged so it was nice to see a flag by her blog in my reader and then with a title like this, I knew that I had to dive into this post. Two new words this week, courtesy of reading blog posts. Does it get much better than that?

Thankfully, Helen takes the time to provide us with a definition of the word “fugue”! I’d never heard or read it before.

I think that, in these days of COVID, we’ve all seen screen captures of video conferencing sessions with participants in their own little window. That’s become the reality for most people and we’ve all made fun of it and have seen how others can be brutal in their comments as well.

Helen provides another interesting look, a couple of examples, and an inspirational call to action.

We too can step out of our fugue and leave a legacy of our teaching and learning, just as this video models. This is a record of a moment where musicians came together purposefully, to create something meaningful and beautiful.

There’s your challenge if you’re working in an online class environment for this Friday.


Check out all these amazing posts and then follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Terry Whitmell – @TerryWhitmell
  • Laura Elliott – @lauraelliottPhD
  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram
  • Richard Erdmann – @rerdmann
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon
  • Melissa Turnbull
  • Helen DeWaard – @hj_dewaard

The Wednesday morning’s edition of This Week in Ontario Edublogs is available here: https://voiced.ca/podcast_episode_post/identity-pedagogy-and-a-meaning-of-life/

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


After yesterday afternoon with a high of 13 degrees and walking around comfortably with just a jacket, it was back to winter coat and big mittens today. Spring in Ontario. As I look out the window, I see little flakes of snow. This is nuts.

What’s not nuts are the posts this week from Ontario Edubloggers.


Celebrating Kindergarten

And it seems just like yesterday when I first went to kindergarten. It was such a traumatic experience. But, it launched my educational career. You gotta start somewhere.

On the Heart and Art Blog, Melissa Turnbull writes to remind us that this is the tenth year anniversary of full-day kindergarten. Except for having kids of my own, I figured that Grade 1 would be the end of thinking about kindergarten! Then, later in my teaching career as a computer consultant, it was my privilege to visit students and teachers in their kindergarten environment. Everything is so small. Looking up from those in the roof, we must have looked so big.

Full days changed everything for the youngest in our schools and you’ll find Melissa’s observations and links interesting to check out.

We now think of it as just the way that education is done but it was a huge shift at the time.


Getting Older

We all do it annually.

Diana Maliszewski reached another birthday milestone recently. You’ll have to click through and read her blog post to figure out which one. She doesn’t hid anything.

I love the fact that she doesn’t mind having a birthday. May that never get old. She does have one thing about birthdays that I never had. A birthday during the school year. It’s a special time where you might have something going on at school – I can remember kids’ parents bringing in cake for the class and all of us singing.

There really are no bad days for birthdays. Well, maybe mid-August when all your friends are at cottages or doing something to capture the end of the summer. And then it falls on the family reunion where your celebration is ignored because everyone is greeting everyone else and waiting for the corn on the cob to arrive. But, other than that, there are no bad days.

But I’m not bitter. I’m envious that Diana is so positive about every thing that’s happening to her as she hits another milestone and is still the enthusiastic wonderful person that she always seems to be. May that never change.

Happy Birthday, Diana.


Bottle critique

Don’t judge a blog post by the images in it. If that was the case, you might skip past this post from Alanna King. Well, unless you like a good wine.

I do like a good wine so I was drawn in by this post that was not the typical post from Alanna. As it turns out, it wasn’t too much about wine at all. It was more about design layout for some advertising pieces.

The Business educator in my was intrigued by her analysis of some different layouts and how she interpreted them. It was interesting to see the design and the strategic placement of chocolates in a couple of them. We did this exercise in Marketing classes all the time!

I had to smile just a bit to see the wine bottles lying on their sides. In our financial reach, there don’t seem to be any bottles that come with real corks anymore so there is no need to lie them on their sides.

Actually, our “vin de jour” now comes conveniently in a box. For a couple of years at university, we got into making our own wine and I learned so much about the process. Now that I’m older, it’s far more convenient to just drive into town and buy it ready to go.

And with all the great wineries in Essex County, you can go right to the source.


Girls Who Game (GWG) 2020-2021

I have great admiration for educators who go above and beyond and it’s even more amplified with all of the challenges that we have in education and society right now.

But, that doesn’t stop Zelia Tavares and Katina Papulkas from offering gaming opportunities to the young ladies involved in the Girls Who Game club. Thanks to Zelia who names names in this post, I have a couple more Ontario educators to add to my list – Kamla Rambaran and Sebastian Basualto.

The post is an update to this effort – gaming in Minecraft which seems to be very popular and I’ve yet to hear of someone who has regretted getting involved. With Zelia and her tinkering abilities, it must be a hoot for the girls.

They’re talking about designing “an eatery of the future in Minecraft”. I couldn’t help but think that I had a glimpse, growing up with the Jetsons.

But what an environment to turn the imagination loose to see what might shake out! You might not be able to create it in real life but you often can in Minecraft.


Slice of Life: She likes me so much!

I started to write “It’s the little things that matter.” But this isn’t a little thing. It’s a huge thing! It might even be the most important thing

Lisa Corbett drops just a lovely post to read in these times.

Maybe it’s because she was out in the cold doing her morning assigned duty and was looking for things. Maybe it’s something that she suspected all along and it was just reinforced. Maybe it’s just that we’re all looking for good things these days.

Whatever the reason, this post is a reminder to all that there are special relationships in education and it could be easy to overlook. Lisa didn’t; she captured the moment in her mind and blog and you’ll feel good reading about it. You may wish to keep your eyes open in the future to see it happening around you.


Exploring The World of Google Arts And Culture – E040

The Edugals, Rachel Johnson and Katie Attwell, dropped another podcast – this time about Google’s Arts and Culture product.

I’ll admit that it’s a wonderful pastime for times when I might be a little bored or I’m just looking for something inspirational and different.

For all the time that I’ve poked around in this environment, I know that there’s so much left to be explored. It’s never time wasted.

I’m mentioned various parts hers in posts from the past. I use it as a personal reminder if I ever want to follow the cookie crumbs back and re-enjoy things. The applications are so rich for the classroom and I appreciate the fact that the ‘gals took the time to share their thoughts.

If you’ve never explored this resource, this post and podcast may be just the inspiration that you need to get started.


LearningInTheLoo: Photocopier Fitness

This isn’t too depressing at all.

After reading Laura Wheeler’s post, I thought about all the time I spent staring out the window or eavesdropping on conversations going on while I was waiting for something to happen while at work.

With Laura’s list, I’m reminded of how there can be dead time in the course of the teaching day. Her list…

waiting for:

  • your copies to print
  • the staff bathroom to be free
  • your lunch to heat up in the microwave
  • the bus to arrive 
  • the bell to ring
  • students to arrive

I wasted all that waiting time doing other things. Rats!

In the graphic, Laura offers some suggestions about what you could be doing instead and doing something good for yourself.


I hope that you can find some time to click through and read all these terrific blog posts. There’s some inspiration, fun, and insights to get you thinking.

Then, follow most of them on Twitter.

  • Melissa Turnbull
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Alanna King – @banana29
  • Zelia Tavares – @ZeliaMCT
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • EduGals – @EduGals
  • Laura Wheeler – @wheeler_laura

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


In one week, we’ve gone from socked in with snow to having to clean the yard now that we’re down to grass. (I own a dog, remember)

Enjoy some recent post from Ontario Edubloggers.


Complex

I was delighted to see The Beast back at the blogging keyboard. It’s always interesting to read their initial thoughts and then the back and forth between Andrea and Kelly.

Their opening line got me really thinking.

Every school has a population of students who are incredibly complex.

It reminded me of this – “A riddle wrapped up in an enigma”. That so describes teaching. You just have to solve for everything.

But The Beast is ready for it. They even took a course from Nogah working on the notion of a wicked problem. What follows in the blog post is a wide range of ideas and discussions between the two of them.

It’s a good read and, unfortunately, they do not provide a solution. But there is good advice there for anyone trying to reach a solution. And that’s a good thing.


Leadership is Exhausting #1: headships & heirarchies

I’ll admit right up; I did not know that Tim King was co-chair of his technology department. Should I have known? When I read that, I thought that this would be a great catalyst for the school.

“Status Quo” doesn’t exist in Tim’s vocabulary.

If there’s anyone who would be a good apple cart overturner, it would be him.

He did get a real dose of educational reality in the experience. It is indeed hard work being at the head of a department in a school. There are all kinds of challenges in the position and you’re the one that needs to provide the answers. We all know that everyone is working so hard these COVID days but those who teach niche subjects end up with multiple sections just so that they can run. Why? Such educators believer that it’s important to offer that opportunity for students but it does come at a cost. Even a two-section split requires lesson planning for two different curriculums.

Tim has left that position; he was there for two years and he shares some of the things that he was able to bring back to his school.

He should take satisfaction in that.


After Cheggification – A way forward (Part 1)

Those of us who work in K-12 may not be aware of the challenges involved in higher education. Dave Cormier gives us an insight to what’s happening. He even inspired me to read about the Academic Integrity policy at the University of Windsor.

I suppose that it probably always was a challenge – students cheating on their work – I can remember at university some people going through discarded printouts looking for answers to programming problems. It always amused me as I wondered how many people discarded working solutions. But, anyway.

If you do a search for “plagiarism checker” on the internet, you’ll find all kinds of solutions. When you visit them, they typically sell themselves as tools for student achievement. Chegg is the one that Dave addresses here. Simply put, you ask Chegg a question and you get answers. (among many of the other advertised features). In a regular world, that’s a great study aid. But, when you’re learning at home and need a little assist …

So, the teaching staff is offering solutions to address this in their evaluations.

  • Response 1 – Make the exams harder
  • Response 2 – Entrapment
  • Response 3 – open/take home exams and assignments replacing high stakes exams

Dave notes that each of these solutions make things more difficult for students. For the malpractice of some, everyone pays. It reminds me of having to stay in class at recess because someone else in the class messed up.

Dave takes off in a different direction. The questions themselves…

“Well-structured questions” which seem like a logical, reasonable solution. I mean, weren’t we all schooled as teacher candidates about having quality questions and activities. But then he talks about “Ill-structured questions” and how it might change everything.

It’s a tease for his next post which I’m looking forward to reading.


Creating Characters!

I’ve mentioned this many times before but I think the way that Cameron Steltman handles blogging with his students is genius. It’s not your traditional blogging approach; it’s better.

His goal is to get kids writing and he addresses the desire that every teacher has for writing – getting kids to write for an audience.

He actually writes the blog post as a provocation and the students reply to this provocation. So, there’s none of this dead space that we so often see when teachers try to get students to blog. Because the students know that their classmates and maybe even mom and dad will be reading, the quality of the writing is quite impressive.

In this case, Cameron’s class is working on storytelling and he has them create a character. There are rules

  • a name (first, middle, last)
  • a few favourite things
  • 3 personality traits (e.g. funny, humble, disturbed, etc. )
  • a flaw (something that can create conflict)

The responses are awesome. During the This Week in Ontario Edublogs show, Stephen suggested that it would be an interesting extension to have the characters created actually meet and interact with each other.

There’s a next level of sophistication for you.


Extra Help w/ Bookings

In a regular year, it would come in the form of a request “Sir, can I drop in a lunch or after school for some extra help”. Now that so many people are teaching online, surely there is a technological solution.

Cal Armstrong provides a solution in Microsoft Office 365 called Microsoft Bookings. Since I don’t have Office 365, I’d never heard about Bookings before.

I found it really helpful to go through and read Cal’s post. There are lots of screen captures there to step through the process. It actually appears to be straight forward and I can see why he uses it. He sets the table for students to electronically book a bit of Mr. Armstong’s time for extra assistance.

Even more valuable than the mechanics of working your way through Bookings is the wisdom that Cal shares about the actual implementation. There are controls that the teacher can put into place so that it doesn’t get out of hand and respects teacher time and privacy.

I can’t help but think that this is a valuable tool and I also wonder how many people like me are oblivious to its presence.


Mom Was My Hero.

This was a first blog post from Jamie McKinnon that I just happened to catch as he announced it on his Twitter feed.

As you might guess from the title, it is a personal tribute to a mother who has passed. It’s a little different than the typical blog post that I feature in this post but that doesn’t change its importance.

And what better words could an educator use about someone else than

Mom was a ferocious learner, never stopped, curious and passionate

I’ll admit a little hesitancy to go through and read this. It seemed kind of personal and I was afraid that it might be one of those stories where people were separated by COVID as I was with a friend and a cousin who passed away earlier this year.

Jamie uses the post as a tribute to a wonderful mother. While her passing is nonetheless sad, the memories of a long, active life come through loudly and clearly.


Going back to in-person learning: Multiple Perspectives

Jennifer Casa-Todd shares a story of a presentation that she made recently. It was about digging into different perspectives about a return to face to face instruction/learning.

School districts world-wide are certainly all over the map about this. The consensus is that it’s a good thing but how do you do it and respect every educational partner at the same time? Secondary schools in Ontario are a good example of this. It was on the news this morning that the state of Michigan will be returning soon.

So, Jennifer’s activity?

I divided participants up into four different groups: a) Parent who is struggling to find care for their child; b) Student who is doing well in a virtual environment; c) Politician who is getting pressure to open schools d) Director who is seeing student failure rates go up.

It would have been interesting to see the responses. I found it interesting that one of the groups wasn’t teachers but that may have been by Jennifer’s design.


I hope that you can find some time to click through and read all of these interesting blog posts. They’ll get you thinking for sure.

Then, follow these bloggers on Twitter.

  • TheBeast – @thebeastedu
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Dave Cormier – @davecormier
  • Cameron Steltman – @MrSteltman
  • Cal Armstrong – @sig225
  • Jamie McKinnon – @jnmckinnon
  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @JCasaTodd

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


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


February Patience

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

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

we’re about to begin a September in February

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


STUDENT PROJECTS TO PROMOTE CREATIVITY

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

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

  • CANVA
  • WinkSite
  • Google Tour Creator
  • QuestGarden

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

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

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

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


Improvement is the Enemy of Change

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

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

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

Charles Pascal uses this as a way to discuss

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

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

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

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

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


Building practices for great equity: Careful engagement in Collaborative Learning

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

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

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

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

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


Time is the…

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

She was struck by the last of the song

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

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

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


Snow Day = No School Day

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

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

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

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

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


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

Then, follow these bloggers on Twitter.

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s Friday and time for a walk around Ontario visiting some great recent blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. Here goes.


I just saw a Coyote

This was a strange title coming from Jennifer Casa-Todd’s blog so I immediately had to check it out. Coyotes have actually been in the news recently. https://www.blogto.com/city/2021/01/toronto-pet-owners-coyotes-kill-dogs/

So, I clicked through not knowing what to expect. Nothing bad, I hoped. As it turns out, she thought she saw a coyote. After a discussion with her husband, she went back to make sure.

You’ll have to visit the post to see what happens next and how Jennifer turns it into the sort of message that we’ve come to expect from her blog.

All in all, it’s an interesting experience to live through with her and a good lesson/reminder to be learned by all.


Slice of Life: When to call

Lisa Corbett gives us a personal look at this question.

When do you call home when something happens with a child at school? It’s probably a sign of our litigious times that she’s asking the question. I’m guessing that there was a time where the determining factor might have been whether blood was flowing or not.

At the secondary school level, I don’t ever recall it being an issue. If a student felt he/she needed attention, they would visit the nurse’s office. Not that there was a nurse there but someone in Guidance would be there to help.

When I coached football, the EMS always sent a truck and some of their workers to enjoy the game and be there in case they were needed.

I had to smile as Lisa talked about her “magic ice” because that could be taken a couple of different ways!

In these days of COVID, what amount of coughing leads to a call home?

Lisa poses a good question and I’m sure would appreciate your insights.


Historical Thinking for the Common Good

Paul McGuire’s recent post had me doing something I’ve never done before. I devoted a whole blog post to it on Wednesday in advance of discussing it on This Week in Ontario Edublogs on voicEd Radio.

There were so many angles to the whole thing that I just needed to get straight in my mind. I love history these days but certainly not when I was in school.

There were two major things that drove my thinking:

  • why did my remembrance of school history remind me of memorizing names, dates, places, etc. Why didn’t it try to put things into context like – why did John A. Macdonald do what he did? What was happening at the time that was so significant?
  • why don’t we have the best history teachers teaching introductory courses? They could make history come alive and encourage further studies in history
  • I very much appreciate living in such a history rich community

If you look beyond the simple discussion of History as a discipline, Paul will have you looking and asking questions about education in general and that’s a really good thing.


Junior Kindergarten Online – Journal – Days 6, 7, 8 & 9

From the picture at the top of Terry Whitmell’s post to her rather long observations of a week in the life of a junior kindergarten student, this is a true life journal. I’ve got to believe that her observations would apply to many more people than you might expect.

There are lessons to be learned by those people who make blanket statements like teaching on line is a simple pivot from a regular classroom.

  • Technology isn’t always a 100% positive partner in learning.
  • While teachers are always looking at terrific ideas in their mind about how to engage students, they don’t always work.

I’ve been in Terry’s position and I will vouch that she’s not making any of this stuff up. It’s a faithful discussion at things from the home side of learning from home. The one thing that she didn’t mention that happened here is a series of visits to the snack cupboard.

Your heart has to go out to the junior kindergarten student who is living this as their first experience in education. People are doing their best so it’s not a lash out at any one or any thing. It’s a sign of our reality.

In her call to action at the bottom of her post, Terry has some very good recommendations for how things might go better from her perspective at home. Take a look; there just might be some inspiration there for you.


Virtual Debt #SOL2021

This post, from Melanie White, came on the heels of me reading a post about the amount of money that a teacher is personally spending for the privilege of teaching at home.

I didn’t understand her title completely until I got right into the post. Reading an email from a colleague who had a breakdown opened my eyes to another type of debt.

“virtual emotional debt wracking up expenses beyond calculation”

It’s a tough read when you plunk yourself into that environment. Melanie is always incredibly descriptive in her writing.

There’s also a wonderful message in her post for these who are living with teachers these days.


Listen to the Poets: Leadership Reflections from the Inaugural Day (with a very personal ending)

Amanda Gorman’s contribution to the recent inauguration set the stage for Charles Pascal’s recent reflection about poetry.

He opens up and shares about poetry in his life – Robert Frost, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, …

Reading his post and his love for poetry reminded me of watching the inauguration. My wife and I were blown away from Gorman’s part in the event. We both agreed that she indeed was the hit of the show.

I remember saying to my wife – that’s not poetry as I remember it. Probably my worst experience was in grade 8 where we had to memorize a poem and rewrite it from memory, including the punctuation. I remember the poem experience to this day – “The Lady of Shalott” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. I never understood the poem or his name.

I also don’t ever recall enjoying someone reading poetry like I did here; she did such an over the top job. Charles also takes us back to previous poets and inaugurations.

And, it’s not just Charles that noticed; Ms. Gorman will be at the Super Bowl as well.


Final assessment ideas: Physics/Science BINGO!

Lest you think choice boards only have a place in the elementary school, you need to check out these ideas from Andrea McPhee.

Her science department decided not to use final exams after they went to online teaching. I think that most people would agree that this is a significant and important decision.

But education lives and dies by assessment. Something had to be done. I don’t know how many science teachers read this blog but it seems to me that science doesn’t have a monopoly on this. I felt that Andrea goes through and describes the process of setting this up well enough that you could apply it in any discipline. This was a refreshing and indepth discussion well worth the read.

She includes a link to a planner template as a Google document so that you can easily make it yours. You really need to know your curriculum inside and out to be most effective.

What’s next? EQAO as a choice board?


The content discussed here comes from these great bloggers. Of course, you’re going to want to follow them on Twitter.

  • Jennifer Casa-Todd – @jcasatodd
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Terry Whitmell – @TerryWhitmell
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Charles Pascal – @CEPascal
  • Andrea McPhee – @ms_mcphee

Click through and enjoy all of their great blog posts.