An Interview with Neerja Punjabi


Neerja Punjabi is currently seconded to TVOntario as Director, Educational Partnerships K-12.  Previously, she was a principal in both the Peel District and Toronto District School Boards.  During this very different time, she took the time to have a discussion with me. 

Doug:  My first question is always this – do you recall when we first met?

Neerja: I have been active on Twitter since 2011, which was my first year as a new elementary school principal. I wanted to learn and connect with educators who were sharing ideas in an open forum. I started following you on Twitter during that time because you posted amazing professional learning resources, which I was interested in reading and learning from. You have always modelled the #NeverStopLearning philosophy.

Doug:  You seem to be a regular on #FollowFridays which is always an indicator that you’re actively sharing content.  I’m guessing that our connector in common would have been Urs who I worked with in OSAPAC days.  Would that be your guess, or was it someone else?

Neerja: I met Urs Bill when I joined TVO last year. But you Doug have been a big part of my professional learning network for a very long time, even though we had never formally met. The #FollowFridays feed was another reason for the connection to meet like-minded educators who added value to my professional growth.

Doug:  I’m always in awe with people that manage to converse in multiple languages.  You would certainly be in that category.  Can you share your level of fluency and your languages spoken?

Neerja: I was born and brought up in Hyderabad, India, and we had to learn at least three languages in school. Attending a convent school where English was the medium of instruction, we also learnt Hindi and Telugu as second and third languages. I am very fluent in speaking these languages. In addition, Punjabi is my mother tongue, and I learned it at home. Urdu is very similar to Hindi, and because of that, I can speak it very fluently.

This article from @npr resonated with me. It specifically mentions a research study done in Hyderabad, which highlights my upbringing and exposure to several languages:

https://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2013/11/14/244813470/new-study-shows-brain-benefits-of-bilingualism.

Doug:  Wow, that is so impressive. As a former principal, how was your fluency in these languages an asset?

Neerja: Being fluent in all these languages was a definite asset for me as a principal in Peel District School Board. It helped me to build meaningful relationships with parents and grandparents in the community. I could share my experiences and stories of resilience as a new immigrant with new families immigrating to Canada, particularly from South Asia, giving them a message of hope and a sense of optimism. Speaking in one’s native tongue helps build trust and creates a sense of mutual respect.

Doug:  Now, you’ve been seconded to TVOntario, one of the real education gems in the province.  Your role involves Educational Partnerships.  What does this involve?

Neerja: I would like to give you a little bit of background first about why I decided to take up a secondment with TVO, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary – ‘50 and Never Stop Learning’ this year. TVO has held a very special place in my heart. As a new immigrant coming to Canada 31 years ago, I was fascinated by the broadcast programs which were offered by TVO. When we decided to immigrate to Canada, we knew we had no friends and family here, and the one TV channel we relied on was TVO. Saturday Night at the Movies was a weekly television series on TVO, the public educational television network in Ontario with Elwy Yost and my husband and I watched the two back-to-back Movies. We have many fond memories. Also, my children were avid watchers of the Polka Dot Door (with Polkaroo) and Arthur which were very popular programs. They learned so much through these two shows. TVO played a big role in supporting our immigrant family’s successfully acclimatization to the Canadian values and culture.

My secondment to TVO has been a wonderful learning journey. As Director, Educational Partnerships, I have developed and led TVO’s strategy to coordinate partnerships and outreach activities across the K-12 educational community, including communication and liaising with school districts, federations, affiliations and employee group partners, EDU, and Faculties of Education. We have promoted awareness and adoption of TVO and TVO’s digital products and services in targeted professional learning sessions across the province.

Doug:  You and your team had a big presence at the Bring IT, Together Conference in Niagara Falls last November.  Who is on your team and what are their roles?

Neerja: Our ‘small but mighty’ team comprises both TVO employees and educators who have been seconded from either a Board of Education or from the Ministry.

Here is a list of our phenomenal team members:

  • Urs Bill, Manager of TVO Mathify and Educational Outreach (seconded from the Ministry of Education)
  • Natalie Perez, Outreach Support Officer
  • Jenny Cadena and Tony Yeung, Resource Coordinators for TVO Mathify
  • Albert Wisco, Community Manager for TVO Teach Ontario
  • Kyle McCreight, Digital Media Producer
  • Jennifer Montgomery, Education Officer (Seconded from YRDSB)
  • Leah Kearney, Pedagogue/Instructional Liaison (seconded from TDSB)
  • Maureen Asselin, Instructional Liaison (seconded from HCDSB)

Doug:  In advance of the conference, you and your team submitted a guest blog post here: https://dougpete.wordpress.com/2019/10/26/bring-tvo-into-your-classroom-2/

I’ve been an exhibitor at that conference, and I have a not-so-fond memory of exhaustion from standing so long and repeating the same message over and over.  What is your memory from the event?  Was this your first time at this conference?

Neerja: First, let me thank you for sharing our blog on your WordPress and Twitter. Your support has meant a lot with expanding our outreach efforts across the province.

In 2019, I attended the BIT conference for the very first time. My team members who had participated in the conference before were very enthusiastic about this opportunity for networking and connecting with so many like-minded educators who were the early adopters of digital learning. There were so many teacher-leaders who participated in drop-in sessions to learn more about TVO resources. Many explored the TVO carousal and registered for TVO mPower and TVO Mathify. Many educators were inspired to join our TVO outreach team as TVO Ambassadors to continue to spread the word.

Doug:  TVOntario hosts so many wonderful resources for education.  Can you share a link to where they are and a quick overview?

Neerja: Here is a link where you will find copies of one-page support guides (toolkits) for TVO mPower and TVO Mathify, as well as a one-page overview of all TVO resources:

bit.ly/TVOVirtualLearning

Doug:  I’ve always been a fan and supporter, in particular, of the Mathematics support that TVO offers.  Can you give an overview of those specifically?  I think that, in these times, they are even more important.

Neerja: I will talk about two TVO resources in particular that offer support in Mathematics.

TVO Mathify is developed for Ontario students and educators, and this resource seamlessly supports the learning of grade 6-10 math. Mathify helps educators to boost math engagement, confidence and reduce math anxiety. It enables students to extend or support their own learning through live, individualized 1:1 math tutoring sessions with TVO Mathify tutors who are also Ontario Certified Math Teachers.

TVO Mathify addresses and accommodates the different scheduling needs of you, your students, and their families during this time. Teachers and students can engage in math lessons and learning at times that work for them and their schedule – over and above any pre-planned lesson times. 

TVO Mathify is also: 

  • Intuitive to use for teachers and students.  No big learning curve required. 
  • Safe and secure.  No ads, no pop-ups, no purchases, no downloads, and no one collecting data on you or your students for potential sale to for-profit organizations. 
  • FREE to Ontario teachers and students and available. 
  • 24/7 access to prepare, post or access questions  
  • Extended tutoring hours for students: 
  • Mon-Fri 9 am-9 pm ET
  • Sun 3:30-9 pm ET

TVO mPower: is a fun and innovative online game-based resource that builds problem-solving, critical thinking and math skills for students K-6. It is an award-winning, ad-free children’s content that supports the Ontario curriculum, developed with a commitment to diversity. Creative online math games support the development of foundational K-6 math & STEM skills in the classroom and at home.

We use a variety of resources to develop TVO mPower; these are foundational to our work: Curriculum Documents – The Kindergarten Program, The Ontario Mathematics, Science and Technology and Social Studies Curricula are used in the creation of the math games, STEM games, and TVO mPower narratives. This ensures the alignment with Ontario curriculum expectations and best practices. The game iterations are based on feedback from classroom teachers, ongoing playtesting and the ongoing research and development process at TVO.

In summary, TVO mPower has 65+ free, creative online games that support the development of foundational K-6 math and STEM skills while fostering positive attitudes towards math. TVO mPower is:

  • Learner-centred
  • Assessment-driven
  • Ontario curriculum-based
  • A safe, advertising-free play space
  • Free for all Ontarians
  • Available on laptop, desktop computers and tablets 

Doug:  Have TVOntario and your team ramped up your resources and support during these times of school closures?

Neerja: Educational partnerships team continues to be innovative in providing outreach virtually through webinars. We have conducted several online webinars for interested educators. Recently we have been asked to deliver two webinars to over 100 educators from a Board of Education to their educator community. Also, educators can access support by registering on TeachOntario

https://www.teachontario.ca/

-an online community for Ontario’s educators. We share our resources, and new content is posted regularly. We also share our resources through social media.

Doug:  Is it safe to say that you and your team are working from home these days? 

Neerja: Yes, you are right – we are currently working from home. We use digital collaboration platforms for our meetings within the organization, and we connect with educators across the province through scheduled synchronous and asynchronous webinars. TVO TeachOntario has been an incredible resource for connecting our team and connecting Ontario educators. In terms of the bigger picture, here is a Blog which highlights some of the ways TVO is conducting business as an organization:

https://www.tvo.org/about/tvo-announces-covid-19-response

Doug:  Have you noticed an increase in the number of students/teachers/parents taking advantage of all that you offer?

Neerja: TVO’s Digital Education Resources

https://www.tvo.org/education-tools

have been featured on the Ministry of Education’s Learn at Home site:

https://www.ontario.ca/page/learn-at-home.

Over the past few months, these FREE TVO resources have had a significant impact and benefit on our educators, students, parents, and guardians. Many students continue to actively use resources such as TVO Kids, TVO mPower, and TVO Mathify. We will continue to serve our communities during these difficult times and have our resources available for anyone who needs the support.

Doug:  During all this, you remain connected to your network on Twitter.  What value do you see in staying connected?

Neerja: Twitter is a platform where I am continually learning, sharing and connecting with educators. At TVO, we share a commitment to lifelong learning and the belief that learning has the power to ignite potential and change the world. My engagement and use of this platform truly align with this deep-rooted value to #NeverStopLearning, which I fully imbibe.

Doug:  I asked Superintendent Hazel Mason this when I interviewed her

https://dougpete.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/an-interview-with-hazel-mason/ 

– if you had to identify 10 “must follow” users on Twitter, who would they be?

Neerja: I was overwhelmed when I saw my name mentioned on this list from Hazel Mason (@Hmason36 on Twitter) in June 2017. Hazel was my Superintendent, a fantastic leader who had high expectations for all her team members, and I hold her in very high regard.

There are so many phenomenal educators and leaders that I continue to learn from regularly on Twitter. Here are the names of those who have helped me and continue to help me on my learning journey:

  • Rose Pillay, @RosePillay1
  • Bill Ferriter, @Plugusin
  • Jackie Gerstein, @jackiegerstein
  • David Culberhouse, @DCulberhouse
  • ONT Special Needs, @Ontspecialneeds
  • Zohrin Mawji, @ZohrinMawji
  • The Agenda/TVO, @TheAgenda
  • Edutopia – @Edutopia
  • Mindshift – @MindShiftKQED
  • NCTE – @ncte

Doug:  I know that you’re a very positive person.  When do you see us getting back to normal, or whatever “normal” will become?

Neerja: Thank you, Doug, that is very nice of you. Yes, I am a positive person, and from what I know is that this too shall pass. In the meantime, we need to focus on ensuring that all safety measures are in place and follow the Public Health advice diligently. By taking personal responsibility, we can collectively flatten the curve. In addition, we need to keep track of the regular updates on COVID-19 shared on the Ontario.ca website. It is an excellent idea to be mindful of what is being expected to keep us all safe.

Doug:  If you were returning to one of your former schools as principal, what sorts of changes do you see having to be made for everyone’s safety?

Neerja:  I understand that returning to school at this time would require a deep reflection and a call to action to support all learners, especially those who are underserved and who may have big gaps in their learning. Providing students with the best learning opportunities will be the highest priority for me as the lead learner in the school. In addition, my focus will be on building positive and trusting relationships with my staff, students, parents, guardians, and extended community partners​.

Doug:  Thank you so much for taking the time during all this to share some of your thoughts, wisdom, and insights. Stay safe.

You can follow Neerja on Twitter at @PNeerja

Make sure that you check out the TVOntario resources at the link above.

Thanks for reading.  Periodically, I interview interesting people like Neerja.  You can read them all here – https://dougpete.wordpress.com/interviews/

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I hope this is Friday. All the days seem to be the same anymore. If it is, it’s the weekend ahead. What are you doing to celebrate?

I might have to cut the grass again.

It was a major sense of accomplishment here to roll the calendar forward a day to schedule this post for a new month. It’s the little things.

Anyway, enjoy some of the recent works from Ontario Edubloggers.


If you aren’t still in a school library…

Beth Lyons shares a reflection about life as a school librarian who isn’t going into a physical library these days.

And then she asks

Am I still a teacher-librarian?

It’s an important question to ask. For many of our who were out of the classroom during major disruptions to the normal, it is something that we always pondered “You wouldn’t know; you’re not in the classroom”, “You don’t have to do report cards”, …

I think it’s natural to see yourself as having a bulls-eye on the forehead at times like this and to do some self-examination.

But step back a bit. There are thousands of teachers who aren’t in their traditional classroom. That doesn’t make them less of a teacher. More that ever, being in a school isn’t the defining factor of teacher. Similarly, being in a library doesn’t define who is a teacher-librarian.

The rules have changed, to be sure. But the things that make a school a school continue. The same applies to Teacher-Librarians. While a classroom teacher knows her/his curriculum backward and forward, a Teacher-Librarian typically knows everyone’s expectations. It seems to me that they can be the best resource a teacher working with a class online can have. While all the resources many be digital for a while, the Teacher-Librarian can be working harder than ever providing research and assistance for colleagues. Beth shares what she’s doing in the post.

Here’s an excellent read to support that notion – School Librarians Take the Lead During the Pandemic.

I think it’s normal for everyone to ponder their abilities with these new situations. Now is not the time to pull back; it’s more important than ever to be visible to others and supportive like never before.


Setting Up Communication with Students in Distance Learning

Alanna King shares an insight to the learning space that is carved out of the King household where she and Tim are now working with their classes.

This post is a wonderful story and truly answers the question “Can students get involved in community service during this time”?

And, it comes from Tim King’s Computer Engineering students. He shared a form with staff members indicating that his students could offer some technical support. In Alanna’s case

I would like a secure Google Doc/Form way to communicate mark updates with students. I’m wondering if we can use something like DocAppender on a spreadsheet to mail merge a column to users with a specific email address e.g. 72 goes to aking@ugcloud.ca and then to have the recipient create a read receipt/digital signature to confirm that they have read it.

One student stepped up with a solution and documented it via a YouTube video.

In these days with all kinds of stories swirling, this is just so inspirational. I hope that the rest of the staff is tapping into this resource. It just has to lighten their load and put their mind at ease knowing someone has their back if they run into problems.

Where do you look for support at this time?


Leadership and Learning under Lockdown

Sometimes, it definitely are the little things that we take for granted and Sue Dunlop reaches out with her experience during the lockdown in her section of the world.

When you think about it, Education is all about timed events. The morning bell is at #.##, National Anthem and announcements at #.##, Every class is ## minutes long. You have exactly # minutes to travel from one room to another otherwise you’re going to be marked late. Lunch is at ##.## and final dismissal is at ##.##. Everything is programmed and timed down to the last minute.

If you’ve ever tried to make an appointment with a superintendent at her/his office, you have to go through a support staff person and will be given a time slot during the course of the working day.

For the most part, the classroom or office door is closed (literally or figuratively) while work is happening. It’s what we do. It’s what we’ve done since kindergarten. Education is no place for a timetable non-conformist!

In light of all this, there are special moments and that’s the point of this post from Sue. You go to the mailroom or the staffroom or out into the hallway between classes or a whack of other quick moments when you’re not switched ON. Those happenstance moments are what Sue is missing at this time.

She’s trying to replicate it during lockdown. And yet, it’s still not the same. Even to have an informal chat on a video conference, you typically have to schedule a time when all participants are able to be there.

Sue concludes with a call to action for leaders to contemplate once they’re back together. I suspect it will be a part of a long list of reflections about this experience. If nothing else, I’ll bet that we all have a deeper sense of appreciation of those moments.


It isn’t a pivot, it’s a giant leap

When I coached football, we had three quarterbacks and one of them was left-handed. We had one play that required a “pivot” and what should have been simple (I thought) wasn’t for everyone. One took too it easily and the other two had challenges. It didn’t come across as a natural action for one and for the left-handed one, it was difficult to even describe because the play was a mirror reflection. I am right handed and there’s no way that I could gracefully demonstrate what was needed.

I learned there that things aren’t always easy and transferable. Peter Cameron has a very distinct edge in voice with his advice to the Minister of Education calling the transition from regular classroom teaching to “Emergency Distance Learning” a simple pivot. His words brought back that football memory immediately. It was almost surreal because I can’t remember the last time I actually ever used the word pivot.

If I had to select an educator that I would think could make the move to distance learning relatively easily, Peter would be high on my list of choices as I consider him well connected. But, like so many, he notes that his misses the daily interaction with students. So, he definitely hasn’t simply pivoted to the new reality.

In other news from Peter, he shares a reminder of the upcoming MAD (Make A Difference) PD event this weekend. Details are here.


Math Links for Week Ending Apr. 24th, 2020

David Petro is always good for some resources for Mathematics and, with his deep understanding of it and the Ontario Curriculum, shares resources and ties them directly for classroom teachers.

This week’s collection resources, video, and images featured a flash back to FEUT Professor Fraser who was part of my teacher education. He shared this puzzle…

It was a wonderful puzzle and I was thinking about coding a solution when I scrolled down and saw that someone had created a moving example illustrating why it works.

The other important takeaway from David’s post announces that, although the annual OAME Conference is cancelled, there will be a “virtual OAME” in its place. Everyone is invited and it’s free.

I look through the sessions and was proud to note some names from my former school district and most certainly many folks that are part of my #FollowFriday posts. It’s a nice replication of the traditional conference including door prizes.


DigCitTO and the future of conferences

DigCitTO had dropped off my radar. It’s a short duration event normally held face to face. Driving all the way to Toronto, finding parking, etc. really makes it prohibitive.

But, the organizers went ahead and held the event anyway, shifting to the online world. Editorial Note: microwaving something from M&M pales in comparison from the great downtown Toronto food.

As it turned out, I could only drop in a couple of times for a few minutes to see what was up.

In this post, Diana Maliszewski shares her conference attendance (or partial attendance) including a session that she co-presented. All in all, good reading.

She did close with some musing about the future of conferences. Some, perhaps, could live in an online presentation world. I think that those of us who have attended sessions know that online that they can easily turn into a “sit ‘n git” with the worse of them. It really takes a skilled presenter to bring interactive elements into such a session. I look to Speaking Bureaus to provide learning into engagement techniques because this will be our future for a while anyway. Diana has a question mark beside the OLA Superconference. Gulp.

Regardless, there are so many things that I would miss – exhibit halls, interactive sessions, hugs from friends, first meetings with new friends, walking a strange city, finding old friends and meet up for dinner, sitting in a pub or bar sharing war stories and so much more. Organizations use the opportunities to foster partnerships and use attendance fees to fund themselves. So much would change if this format was lost.


Classrooms After Covid-19

How’s this for coincidence?

Shortly after I scheduled my post for Re-opening questions, I got a message from Deb Weston that she had written this post.

Like my crystal ball, Deb took the opportunity to envision what classrooms might look like once teachers and students are able to return to them.

She has a nice discussion on the various elements as she sees them. There are just so many concerns and decisions that have to go into the planning. While my approach was largely from my thoughts in a secondary school background, she brought into focus what an elementary school might have to plan for.

What comes through in both of our posts is the concept that schools are a large mass of humanity compressed into small facilities. Bizarrely, the media seems to be spending more time reporting on how baseball might open or hockey might wind down than what schools re-opening might look like.

The biggest cost item (other than hand sanitizers) would be staffing and she takes some time doing the mathematics and predicts that a 42% increase in the number of teachers would be needed.

I’d like to suggest that both posts would be good reads and “look fors” when the bell rings. You can’t just flip a switch.


Please find some time to click through and read the original posts. We live in interesting times and there are some great thoughts generated.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Beth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Alanna King – @banana29
  • Sue Dunlop – @Dunlop_Sue
  • Peter Cameron – @cherandpete
  • David Petro – @davidpetro314
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Deb Weston – @DrDWestonPhD

This post originated on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s been another week of great posts from Ontario Edubloggers.

Look what crossed my desktop this week.


Trolls Creep Into the Education Debate in Ontario

From Paul McGuire, a message that I don’t think should come as a surprise to anyone.  Teachers and education are always a target by those not in education.  I’ve mentioned this many times before; we’ve all had less than perfect experiences in education.  It only takes issues like we see these days to fuel the fire.  People feel the desire to fire back.

And, of course, there are those that will fire back in their own trollish fashion.

A great collection of definitions of “troll” appear here.  Pick one.

Paul offers an insightful post that I really enjoyed.  But then, I’m a teacher for life and so I’m bound to agree with him.  I do tend to block those that are overly trollish to me.  I don’t need that negativity in my life.

There are two things that I think are really bad behaviour.

  • The anonymous troll – they don’t have the guts to sign their real name to their thoughts.  Look for them adding comments on public newspaper articles.
  • The troll within – those within the teaching profession who have an axe to grind and take shots at colleagues.

Morale Compass

Yes, Ann Marie Luce said morale.

I saw this post as a two-parter from her.  At a recent workshop she attended, a common theme of morale and climate within the school kept being discussed.  I think it probably was an insightful observation by those who were in attendance.  Things are certainly different than when we were in school.  I suspect that, if we’d been a fly on the wall at our teachers’ staff meetings, that the comments might have been the same.  Kids today.

Later in the post, recent announcements in Ontario became the topic of her focus as she identifies some of the issues facing our schools and our teachers.  Kudos to her for keeping tabs on things even though she’s thousands of miles away.

She poses a key question…

How can we work together to value and support each member of our community?

In the midst of everything that’s happening, it’s a question that everyone should be asking because, as Ann Marie notes…

we CANNOT do it alone!


The problem(s) with mandatory e-learning…

I was around at the beginning of online learning within our district.  We had many questions at the time.  The big question that helped frame things was essentially to make sure that online learning was significantly better than correspondence courses.  Students should get the same learning experience and should graduate with the same knowledge, skills, and attitudes as those in traditional face to face classrooms.

We found that it wasn’t easy.  We also determined that online learning wasn’t for everyone and there was even a FAQ posted to the website that indicated that online learning might not be for everyone.  That has since been removed.

At the time, we addressed many of the same points that Kyleen Gray identifies in this post.

 

  • Plagiarism and Cheating
  • Teacher Selection and Training
  • Literacy, Technology and Independent Learning Skills
  • Lack of Classroom Relationships
  • Stagnant, Impersonal Course Material

Things are different today.  Witness the large number of services that now offer courses online.  At the same time, read the stories behind the low success rates despite the claims from the services.  Personally, I’ve had mixed experiences trying to learn new skills online.  (typically trying to learn a new programming language)

While I think that our consortium did a decent job offering opportunities for the students that enrolled, we didn’t have the mandate that every student in the problem take four courses to graduate.  Revisiting the above observations is going to be more important and mission critical than ever.


 

 

Strategies vs Models

This post, from Mark Chubb, had me thinking in a tangent that I hadn’t had before.  The difference between strategies and models.

Including a graphic that will make you investigate and think.

Mark’s done his homework on this – including references and links to the work of Cathy Fosnot and Pam Harris.  Clicking through and reading his research is highly recommended.

This table provides a nice summary.

An important part of his argument is attention needed for developmental trajectories.

This isn’t a quick and easy read with all the supporting links included but they form a crucial part of the message.


D is for Debate

Lynn Thomas is working her way through the alphabet and is now on D.

“Is there any point in public debate in a society where hardly anyone has been taught how to think, while millions have been taught what to think?”

In an educated society, debate whether personal or with others is really a skill.  It also requires the maturity to recognize that your initial position may be partially or completely incorrect.  Our media doesn’t always acknowledge a change in opinion and, often when it does, uses the term “flip flop” instead.  The topic of the debate, in these situations, goes away and the focus shifts to the person.

When I first read Lynn’s post, I scribbled myself a note:

We live in a society that often vilifies the other person and not necessarily the opinion they have – i.e. they’re bad so that means their ideas are bad too

Lynn offers a strategy straight from John Dewey about how it look like in the classroom.  I wonder, though, can it look that way in real life?


Choose your own… PD.

Yes!

I really appreciate it when Cal Armstrong opens his mind and shares some of the thinking that he’s doing.  He’s always got great ideas.

In this case, he was one third of a Professional Development Day.  He says that he would have 30-40 teachers at a time.  Now, we’ve all been in laid on professional learning events and we know how they go over at times.  Particularly with a technological bent, people are all over the map with their expertise and their interests.

So, Cal did a “Create Your Own Adventure” activity in OneNote.

Depending upon your path, you might end up, well, I guess at an Office, whatever that means.  You will get a chance to discover that if you stick with his post.

Cal shares a link to the Notebook so that you can relive the experience.  I spent a bit of time poking around myself.  Cal’s sense of humour comes through!

There was a chance to see new tools that are available to staff.  There were some challenges with the IT implementation and controls at the school.  But, it sounds like a great approach.  Could you use it?

And, we need to know more about this, Cal.

Since this would be my swan song as the tech guy 


#BIT19 Call for Proposals is OPEN!

On the ECOO blog, Ramona Meharg lets us know that the Bring IT, Together Conference is now open and looking for session submissions.

I don’t know about you but I’d go into any session presented from the folks who are included in this edition of This Week in Ontario Edublogs.


Please take some time to click through and read these original posts.  Drop off a comment if you’re so inclined.  Tell them Doug sent you!  <grin>

Then, follow them on Twitter.

Please check in every Friday and see what great things are happening on the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.

This post appeared originally on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Happy Labour Day Weekend.  Anyone else going to the Harrow Fair? We go every year so that my wife can get her fill of banty hens.

If not, settle back and read some of these interesting blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.


Why Twitter? Response

Have you ever made someone create a blog post?  I did and Jennifer Casa-Todd responded nicely.  She started with an innocent enough question….  I think it’s probably a question that everyone would like the answer to.

 

That opened the door for me and a blog post inspired by her inquiry.  Read her post and you’ll understand her motive for the original question.

She’s looking for some data for her research so if you have literally 15 seconds to help her out, answer her three question survey.

I’m hoping that she shares the results; I know I’m interested.


#BIT15Reads: Joining the club and choosing a book

Last year at the Bring IT, Together Conference, a self-directed learning/discussion book talk was introduced with great success. 

Alanna King is getting a head start on the concept this year.  Using her expertise with Goodreads, she’s started the process.

I think it’s a natural progression.  Not everyone can attend and join in the discussion face to face at the conference.  But, anyone with the book and an internet connection can read and participate.  This could go world-wide – please consider sharing her initiative far and wide.  The more that are involved, the better the results and proof that our connections are so powerful.


Neil Postman Had It Right—Back in the 80’s

The year is 1987 and the location is Tel Aviv.  Peter Skillen reminisces about a conference with the theme “caution versus enthusiasm”.  In this post, Peter shares some of the thoughts from Neil Postman on the topic.

Even though the years have passed, there’s still so much common sense in Postman’s observations.

What’s changed?

Innovation and big business.  Attend any computer conference or visit any technology store.  The amount of technology available to schools and teachers back then was minuscule compared to the offerings today.  Add to it the number of people who work on commission and you have a huge intrusion into schools and school districts trying to sell the latest, greatest, and shiniest.  That’s not going to go away soon but it wouldn’t hurt to step back and question why.  If the answer is “because so and so is doing it” or “it’s the standard in business and industry” or based on a theory of questionable origin, then I’d suggest that the wheels are wobbly and need to be tightened.


Curricularize Coding? Not a New Question!

Peter must be clearing out his personal library.  In the next post, he shares evidence that good Ontario educators understood the value of programming in 1986.  Of course I was, because as a secondary school computer science teacher, that was my job.  Peter reminds us that there were elementary school teachers who understood the power as well in this scanned article from ECOO Output, an eagerly awaited publication from ECOO when it had Special Interest Groups and was more than just a conference.

His inclusion of this picture of Ontario Educational Technology leaders brought back some memories of people I’ve worked with over the years.  I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen Ron Millar wear anything but black.

Oh, and Peter also includes a nice article from the SIG-LOGO group.  I’ll confess to being completely distracted and spending quite a bit of time going through the above picture before I read that though.  Sorry, Peter.


Back-To-School 2015: Your Creative Advice

Stephen Hurley’s latest post is both a smile and a plea for help.

I find myself wearing two hats on this one. The first is the hat of an educator who has had the opportunity to witness quite a few opening days. But I’m also the father of two children who, at 8 and 6 years of age, are just beginning to negotiate their way through the formal school system. Truth be told, I find myself favouring the father hat these days.

Being a teacher and a parent is an interesting combination, and really challenging at times.  Going back to school is just the beginning.

But, with young kids, it’s a challenge for everyone.  Indeed, how do you make it an exciting and non-threatening event?

Stephen offers some suggestions and is looking for more.

Do it quick; school starts on Monday.

The smile part – I’m sure that he’s yet to experience the situation where a student / teacher conflict happens and the teacher is a friend and the student is, well your kid, and you know what she/he is capable of.


Case Method — classroom catalysts, from story to discourse and back again

You might have missed this post from Richard Fouchaux because he neglected to include the word “free” in the title.  But, make sure you give it a read.

He’s putting it out there – if you’re interested, show a little online love and follow his blog for the results.


As the return of school is nigh, it’s great to see that Ontario Educators are still learning and sharing.  Please take a few moments to click through and support these wonderful bloggers and all of the Ontario Edubloggers.  If this is the year for you to start sharing your wisdom with others, please add your blog URL in the form provided.  There’s so many good things happening.  Be a part of it!

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s always refreshing and a pleasure to read the thoughts and sharing of Ontario Educators.  My own challenge is deciding which to include in this weekly post.  Please read on; I think that there are some great choices below.


Greetings from Cochrane Alberta

I don’t recall when I first met Patti Henderson but our paths keep crossing.  She’s got an incredible photographic eye and, when she lived in Toronto, shared some interesting pictures from her perspective.  She always seems to see something that I would have missed.

Now, we all like to refer to our blogs as journeys but recently Patti is having a different type of journey.  She’s headed out to Alberta for a new adventure and sharing pictures of her adventure.

The best pictures are on her SmugMug account.  There’s some great documentation of her journey.  Check them out.


Getting Started ~ Library Research Information Guide for Graduate Students

Denise Horoky from the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario offers this blog post as an offer to graduate students.

It seems like an incredible offer.  I can’t imagine anyone not taking her up on the offer.

I think that this is a wonderful model that could be offered by any teacher librarian.  It’s almost a challenge for the student to be unsuccessful!


Parental Involvement

Yesterday, I shared a blog post “Young Canadians in a Wired World“.  I’m mulling around in my mind a followup post.  Tim King, however, jumped at the opportunity to share his thoughts.

I’ll admit this.  I don’t think I’ve seen the word “feral” used in a blog post.

Tim focused his thoughts on the Parental Involvement piece.


Graduation Caps and Gaps

When graduation day comes along, it’s the end of a run for students and teachers.  At my old high school, we used to graduate outside with chairs on the asphalt circle in front of the school.  If you’ve never enjoyed the sun and humidity of Essex County, be glad.  Put on cap and gown (and we as staff all wore our university hoods) and you’ve got the late afternoon sun beating down and the heat from the asphalt radiating up.  You’re so glad when it’s over.

Sheila Stewart’s post reminds us that it’s not over for the parents.  Sure, they’re beaming with pride during the ceremony but they’ve got to worry about the next steps.  Read her post to get some interesting insights.

As she points out there are “no easy answers”.


I really enjoyed the reading from this week.  I hope that you’ll take the time to read the complete posts at the links provided above.  There’s a great deal to think about.

You can check out the complete collection of Ontario Edubloggers here or here.  If you’re an blogger yourself and you’re not listed, please complete the form and you will be.