This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Happy Friday!

Here’s some great reading from Ontario Edubloggers to kick off your weekend.

Guided Reading for Math?

I always get inspiration and ideas from Deborah McCallum’s posts and this one is no different.

Speaking of different, she sets the stage by talking about the way that we’ve traditionally made the study of language different from the study of Mathematics. She introduces us to the concept of reading for meaning nicely to Mathematics.

Who hasn’t struggled with an involved question that you’re positive the teacher stayed up all night trying to get the wording just right to mess up your day?

So, just like there are tools and techniques for understanding reading material, could the concepts not be applied here?

She builds a nice argument and provides 10 suggestions to make it work.

Why not try guided reading to help students build cognitive, metacognitive and affective skills for reading complex math problems? I encourage you to give it a try.

What Makes A Partnership Work?

You don’t have to follow Aviva Dunsiger for long on any social media before you see a reference to her “teaching partner Paula”.

This blog post is really a testament to the powerful relationship that the two of them have in their kindergarten classroom that I now know has about 30-ish students.

It’s a typical Aviva post – lots of colours and pictures. You’re going to love them.

There’s a powerful message in this post about partnerships in their case. It’s built beyond the professional requirement that they be in the same place at the same time.

As always, she’s looking for comments about similar relationships Stories like this are inspirational in education, particular at this time in Ontario.

Here’s to Paving New Ground

Sue Bruyns provides a bit of background with reading from Professionally Speaking but quickly gets to the heart of a very important issue.

It happens often in education.

I think we can all think of successful innovation stories. Little pockets of excellence at a school or within a department that swells and changes professional practice for others, sometimes changing the direction of things.

There are also other moments not as successful and we don’t always hear about them. Read Sue’s post and you’ll be exposed to one. A group of collaborators take to a piece of software, learn together, and make good things happen. Sue even notes that the company’s CEO flew in from British Columbia to help with some compatibility details. Staff persevered and the software started to show the results promised at Arthur Currie and other schools.

Then, it happened.

A directive from outside the school indicated that the software could no longer be used and that a board approved solution needed to be put in place.

You can’t help but feel sorry for those who spent two years learning and growing with the software. I hope that this gets past the software issue and that the skills and knowledge developed on the initial platform can be transferred to the board approved solution.

I really appreciated reading this post; we don’t often read thoughts from principals and even more infrequently their leadership challenges when influenced from outside the school.

Recess is as Real Life as it Gets

With a background in secondary school, I was out of my element here when the topic turned to recess. It just wasn’t a thing for me unless you counted “travel time” of five minutes between classes…

I really enjoyed the picture The Beast paints of recess and what happens there. I kept thinking that recess and some of the activities described were really application of the things that went on in class.

But, it’s not all fun and games.

And then, as The Beast does, they dig into just what recess actually is. More importantly are their thoughts about what recess could be in their perfect world.

I’m also still trying to figure this out…

Circle back around to the beginning of your post and what we know to be the difference between Dougie’s type of learning and actual learning.

When it comes to mental health in Canada, the gap is still too wide

Before we get to the message in Paul McGuire’s blog post, here’s an observation about format. For the most part, blogging platforms let you categorize and tag posts with words so that you can search later. Typically, this appears at the bottom of the post. In the format that Paul has chosen they appear at the top and one of the tags was “hope”. That helped me frame a reading mindset as I dug in.

He praises Supreme Court Justice Clement Gascon for publically acknowledging his challenges with mental health issues.

We live in a great country. Have we not resolved this?

The World Health Organization reports that in low- and middle-income countries, between 76% and 85% of people with mental disorders receive no treatment for their disorder. In high-income countries, between 35% and 50% of people with mental disorders are in the same situation.

Those statistics should shock you and I would hope would shock society into realizing that we need to do better.

This is a sobering post and I thank Paul for writing about it and bringing it to our attention. I encourage you to take the time to visit and read it. You may end up looking at some of those faces in your classroom differently going forward.

Self-Care for Writers

I kind of found myself out of water and then back in again with this post from Lisa Cranston.

I studied Mathematics and Computer Science at university so the concept of writing big research papers, much less a dissertation, is completely foreign to me. At the time, I hated writing – in high school it always seems that you were writing to be on the good side of the teacher instead of something that you were interested in. I probably have that all wrong but that’s how I remember it.

So, I’ve never had the stress and stressors that Lisa describes in trying to do a long-term writing project.

But, these days, I write every day, albeit not the long-term format Lisa describes. I enjoy writing now and doing whatever research goes into what I do. I was quite interested in Lisa’s suggestion for low cost, self care…

Some suggestions for low cost, short term self-care include: a hot cup of tea, a walk outdoors, playing with a pet, holding hands with a loved one, reading a chapter in a non-work related book. 

I’ve got all this nailed except coffee is a replacement for tea and reading blog posts substitute for non-work related book. (although there always is something on paper beside my chair)

I’m curious though about her definition of “mindless screen time”. I’d really like a definition of that.

bringing back the participatory: a story of the #ProSocialWeb

I’m in love with this very long post from Bonnie Stewart.

Play this album while you read it.

I feel very old when I read her definition of “old-skool Web 2.0”

The participatory web, originally – the old-skool Web 2.0 where readers were also writers and contributors and people were tied together by blog comments – but also social media. Twitter. Even Facebook. Together, these various platforms have networked me into some of the most important conversations and relationships of my life.

That was me in the early days.

I like to think that’s me today. Maybe I haven’t moved on. I value those connections; I worked hard to make those connections; I learned that success didn’t happen over night; I valued the connections; I never thought of myself as a piece of data.

Things indeed are different now. Bonnie describes what is and why.

I love this quote that she includes in the slidedeck embedded.

“If you want to travel fast, travel alone. If you want to travel far, travel together”

I often wonder if those of us who were early adopters aren’t part of the problem. How many times have we shown the “power” of connections and the web and convinced others to join in? The missing part is that we don’t share how much hard work went into our initial learning to make it happen. We know it isn’t immediate gratification; do we share that?

Cringe the next time you’re asked to show the “power” of social networking by retweeting or liking a message.

You know that it’s much more than that and there’s great potential in the ProSocialWeb.

OK, inspired for a Friday – go forth and conquer now that you’re smarter than you were went you started. You did click through and read this amazing content, didn’t you?

Follow these amazing folks on Twitter.

This post originally appeared on:

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

#FollowFriday enhanced

For a long time now, I’ve used the concept of the #FollowFriday to recognize and help extend the networking for Ontario Educators. The only requirement is that I need to know names and that they have to be active recently. The potential names are in five visible and one invisible Twitter lists.

As the originator of the post, I see how often Twitter messages are favourited and retweeted. I also see that there are people that favourite many of them; presumably to follow up with later. I am pleased that people find it helpful.

So, last Sunday in my weekly roundup, I started something new to help with the process.

I decided to collect and put the messages into a Wakelet connection.

So, all of those mentioned are in one spot. That particular collection can be found at:

I think it’s a nice feature to have and will continue to do it on my Sunday weekly roundup post. It comes out every Sunday afternoon at 5pm.

Learn Like Nobody’s Watching

My apologies for the blatant rip off of the text one of my daughters used to have hanging on their bedroom wall.

“Dance like nobody’s watching; love like you’ve never been hurt.
Sing like nobody’s listening; live like it’s heaven on earth.”

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably got a good idea of my learning habits.  One of the things that I do is personal reading first thing in the morning over a cup of coffee.  It’s my personal time for reading.  It started when I was teaching at the university and I used it as a way to illustrate social and shared reading to my students.  When the course was over, I stopped oversharing in this manner.  It was then that a follower, not from North America, contacted me to ask why I’d stopped.  Apparently, me sharing my reading was one of the reasons why she followed me.  I had another observation from another person –  “Zite curates technology and education; @dougpete curates Zite; we just have to curate @dougpete”.

And, the rest is history, I guess.  When I was introduced before my talk in Sudbury, it was noted that I’ll share a blast of reading first thing in the morning.  I wasn’t aware that this person was even following me.

The current directive to ETFO and OSSTF members about self-directed professional development also figures into this discussion.  Traditional PD for some means going to a location once a year for a day or two and sit through someone else’s collections of Powerpoint slides and leave knowing that you’re good for another year.  Doesn’t self-directed make so much more sense?

At the same level or maybe marginally better are the Twitter advocates who are “power users”.  You’ll see them when they need to sell a good or a service.  Or, you’ll see them “please use this hashtag for today’s session”.  That might be the only time they even use Twitter until they give another session and them remind people what a power user they are.

What’s got me on this rant?

This morning, during my readings, I shared this article.  “Why Every Teacher Should Use Twitter”.  I remember reading it, nodding my head, and decide to share it and tuck it away in Diigo.   As it turns out, my original post was retweeted and retweeted.  It seemed to strike a chord with others.  The irony was that it was shared with Twitter users who already get it.  I had two thoughts as I noticed the retweets.

  1. Why are we still having this conversation?
  2. The people who really need to read this aren’t on Twitter!  Hopefully, the excellent post will be printed or something so that the target audience reads it.

It’s a good article and I hope that it lands in front of the eyes of people who need to read it.

I also started to think of the people who talk about “building their PLN” and wondered about that too.  Is it important to intentionally build one?  Or, do you just go about your own learning and sharing and let it happen.

I don’t mean this to be a name dropping thing but during the dog walk tonight, some names came to mind.

These are people that I either don’t know or have met once or twice.  And yet, somehow, we’ve found ourselves learning together.  Not once did I ever set out to learn with a teacher-librarian in Australia, a jogging principal in Northwestern Ontario or a Canadian born ELL teacher in Switzerland or any of the others.  And yet here I am today just following their learning and perhaps they mine.

Could that be the answer?  Just start learning and see where it takes you?

Let’s Talk: Online Educator Meetup Session 1

To all educators in Ontario, Canada: we need a place online to talk.  I’ve witnessed and experienced so many wonderful conversations happening between educators abroad but struggle to find these conversations here in my own backyard.  As a result, I’ve thought about setting up a place for Ontario educators to come together to engage in professional dialogue with local educators and other educators from around the world.  While this will likely have very humble beginnings, I’m hoping that it will grow into a place where meaningful dialogue will result.

After some deliberation, consideration and negotiation, here are the details of this first session:

Who: Educators in Ontario and beyond! (although Adobe Connect licensing restrictions currently limit
us to 40 individuals per session)

When: Monday December 29th 2008 at 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm EST (click here for time zone information:

Where: Online in Adobe Connect:


  • Discussion of the vision and mission of this conversation
  • Discussion of a name for the PLN
  • Topic for discussion: Participating in an PLN online

Format for this first session:

  • 5 minutes: introductions
  • 10-15 minutes: presentation on an issue
  • 20-25 minute conversation about topic presented
  • 5 minute wrap-up

This totals 45 minutes and earlier I stated that this sessions would last one hour.  I’m leaving a 15 minute buffer in
case we need it.

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in attending or just show up on Monday (or Tuesday depending
on the time zone!)  To save on bandwidth, video capabilities will be disabled but please feel free to bring along a mic to engage in voice chat.  The room will be open at 5:30 pm to allow anyone to come it, install any required browser plug-ins and to adjust audio input and output settings.

Hope to see you there!

Cross Posted on The Mobile Learner.

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How to work a PLN

Yesterday, TheCleverSheep made a post where he challenged us to identify the most important thing that we’ve learned from our PLN.  (Personal Learning Network)  In his post, he put a link to a Google Docs survey and made the results immediately visible.

One of his questions was:

“Which tool would you recommend as a starting point to build a personal learning network? ”

It was interesting to see the results.

My first reaction, when I read the question, was to just jump in and nominate Twitter as my choice.  As I moved to the next question, I reconsidered.  The question included the words “starting point”.

Now, many folks use Twitter.  I use it constantly.  In fact, I will have Twhirl or Spaz open on my desktop at all times.

I follow some interesting people and likewise, I try my best to be interesting and productive for anyone who cares to follow me.

I’ve been a real fan of Twitter since joining it.  It took a while, but I now have a pretty good PLN that I’ve developed there.  It’s very comforting to know that I can do a shout out or ask a question or just make a comment and get the response from a segment of the Twitter network.  But, is that for the beginner?  Is it a good starting point?

Upon further review, it isn’t.  There have been lots of folks who create a new account and sit back to watch the magic happen.  But, until you’ve cultivated a following and jumped into the fray, it’s futile.

I decided to opt for Delicious.  Here, you create an account and can get immediate results.  Find a few people and you aren’t looking for the magic to happen.  It already has.  Good Delicious users have already found the answers and contributed to themselves and to their network.  You just have to sit back and reap the benefits.

I think you’ll be off to a better start for the beginner looking for that starting point.

Once they get the knack of things, it’s time to move onto real time interaction and that’s where Twitter steps up to the plate and is so powerful.

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