This Week in Ontario Edublogs

And, it’s another Friday. It’s time to share some great blogging from around the province.

The College Drop-In

Terry Greene is back and active on his blog with an interesting announcement. He’s involved with another project through eCampusOntario. You’ll recall that he was very actively involved earlier in an Extend project for educators. He called that the Empowered Educator. You’ll recall that that introduced us to a number of educators through a voicEd Radio show and their blogs.

This time, the target are learners that are interested in returning to higher education but not necessarily to the full program, rather being involved with micro-credentialing. He calls these the Liberated Learners.

It’s an interesting concept and, of course, you can read more at the post on Terry’s blog. If his commitment to this project is the same as his last, we’ll look forward to many more blog posts keeping us up to date.

All this and he still manages to work skateboarding into the post …


From the TESL Ontario blog, this post from Svjetlana Vrbanic, is a wonderful reminder for educators who are interested in their personal well being. She takes on the issue of brain breaks.

It’s a condition of the teacher beast that we’ll throw everything that we have at the profession. Just look at yourself; how many evenings have you spent developing lessons or overworking on the weekends?

As noted in the post, when you’re teaching face to face, there are moments to take a pause and refresh. It’s different when you’re online as there’s a sense for a need to be “on” all the time.

In the post, there are five suggestions for ways to take a brain break. They all seem like great suggestions but your call to action is to add your favourite way to take care of yourself.

Do you have suggestions to add?

10 years later – Takeaways from Learning in Online Spaces

Tina Zita was a little hesitant to share this post and I can guess why. The current reality for many folks isn’t pleasant and so it’s just natural to suspect how your audience might receive it.

I do appreciate her writing and sharing it though. With 10 years of experience, she should have and does have some great tips, suggestions, and observations about the process.

I found the one “The Environment is still the 3rd Teacher” to be really intriguing. In a perfect world, a teacher is generally in control of the learning environment. We arrange desks, decorate, place centres and technology, etc. Much of this has been removed from so many. All the techniques to sterilize the classroom, for example, has created a completely different environment. Emergency movement to teaching on line isn’t much different. After ten years, Tina would have developed ways to make the learning environment unique to her. Those thrust into the situation this past year had no input – they were just told that they had to do it. Many times, an educator wasn’t even involved in the selection of the environment; it was made by others for whatever reason and/or agenda.

The full slate of topics addressed by Tina are:

  • The Learner is still the centre
  • The Environment is still the 3rd Teacher
  • Start Slow – Less is More
  • Choice
  • Replicate the Experience not the Task
  • Sometimes Things Don’t Go as Planned

There’s a great deal of personal reflection here which makes this post an important one to read.

I truly was embarrassed and guilty as charged when she talked about Digital Clutter. Just sayin’


Motivated by an edition of The Drive by Chey and Pav, Lise Farquhar focuses on the use of words “the” and “my”.

It was during the show that Chey made a personal adjustment in his use of “the students” versus “my students”.

It’s a little thing but, taken in its totality, it has a strong message and caught Lisa’s attention. In fact, she was moved to write a blog post about it.

Lisa takes this opportunity to share her thoughts. Read the post – what do you think?

To the grads of 2021 – spend this summer driving with music: and other lessons from Lisa Damour

From Laura Elliott, a post that really emphasizes the commitment to student well-being. This time, the message is to the graduates of 2021 in an address by Lisa Damour.

I like the way she addresses three big ideas:

  • Weightlifting & the Pandemic
  • Soft Fascination
  • University is NOT the best 4 years of one’s life

So much of this post resonated with me but I had an instant flashback when she mentions driving around with music in the car. For my friends and me, that was our great Friday and Saturday night routine. It built friendships and took us away from the concerns of the day. Our concerns pale in comparison to today but I had this tune immediately playing in my head.

“Oh how I wish we were back on the road again”

The 500 – #370 – Mott – Mott The Hoople

Marc Hodgkinson’s latest post in his music countdown instantly planted an earworm for me. (even though the song wasn’t on this album)

I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve heard this song.

My big takeaway – I didn’t realize the David Bowie connection revealed by guest blogger Claudio Sossi.

You’ll have to head over and read the post. Marc continues to do a nice job of sharing his reflections on great music. You might just join me in reading all of his posts.

Summer Breeze

And, another guest blogger – this time on Richard Erdmann’s blog. A great title and another great song.

Michelle is the guest blogger here and I had to smile at her observation that we’ve gone, and typically go, from winter to summer in Ontario. What is this spring of which she speaks?

She describes a wonderful summer that the two of them have planned whether it be at home or if they happen to be able to travel. I wish them all the best and I really want to do the same things they’re planning.

May their glasses continue to be half-full.

Please click through and enjoy all these wonderful posts.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Terry Greene – @greeneterry
  • Svjetlana Vrbanic – @lanavrb
  • Tina Zita – @tina_zita
  • Lise Farquhar – @L_Farquhar_IB
  • Laura Elliott – @lauraelliottPhD
  • Marc Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher
  • Richard Erdmann – @rerdmann

The show, recorded live on voicEd Radio can be found here.


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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