This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Greetings from my remote location – in my house. If you’ve listened to the voicEd Radio show on Wednesday mornings, you’ll know that I’ve been bumped from Studio A to Studio B because of a bathroom renovation. I’m on a different computer, different network, but I did bring my chair to sit at this relatively small desk. So, I’m good to go but am staring at a wall instead of looking outside on this beautiful Fall day. Here’s my weekly wander around the province looking at Ontario Education blogs.

The voicEd Radio archive of This Week in Ontario Edublogs podcasts is located here.


Teachers Are Still Rocking It-

It’s easy to read about the challenges that Ontario (and everywhere) teachers are having as school buildings re-open in the time of COVID. It’s less easy to find something motivational but Michelle Fenn does in this post on the ETFO Heart and Art Blog.

It’s great to read that educators from her district are interested in refining their technology and pedagogy abilities on their own time during the summer and now continuing into the evenings.

She draws a parallel in education to a series that she watched on Netflix about an exploration to Mars and the unexpected things they found. I’ll bet that describes your classroom.

It’s a good read and she mentions something that needs to be repeated and repeated. It doesn’t lessen our opinions of doctors, nurses, firefighters, grocery and other store and service workers but

Every educator is a front line worker, doing their best, making a difference, being brave beyond imagination and truly an inspiration.

I challenge all readers to repeat that on social and other media often.


A Dichotomy of Words

Elizabeth Lyons gives us a lesson in language in this post all tied to education’s current realities. As she notes, “dichotomy” is a word that we don’t use all that often. But, it was the inspiration for this post as she shares what she sees as dichotomies in our current reality.

  • Masks or no masks?
  • Physically distanced students or collapsed classes?
  • 1m vs 2m?
  • Online learning or face-to-face?
  • Hand sanitizer or soap and water?
  • Google Classroom or Brightspace?

Then, she takes off and gives her interpretation of each.

It’s an interesting read and important that it’s from the keyboard of an educator. We see these terms used casually by those in politics and on the evening news. Their true meaning goes much deeper.


“Somewhere the Hurting Must Stop” – Terry Fox

Patti Henderson is an incredible photographer and a valued person that I’ve met through my social connections and I’ve had the chance to meet her in person a couple of times.

I will apologize up front though; I went to her blog and looked at the pictures and was captivated and blown away with what I saw. I’ve mentioned it many times that artists like Patti see things that I miss. Certainly, this sticks out for me in this photo essay.

It wasn’t until I got to the bottom and saw the map that I realize that this wasn’t some sort of random collection of images. She had participated in a Terry Fox run/hike and took pictures along the way. I even thought that she had taken a picture of the set for Kim’s Convenience until I realized that there are thousands of corner stores in this world.

The pictures and her corresponding commentary puts the whole experience into perspective. Thank you, Patti, for doing this.


Body Breaks at Your Desk – for students too!

In a perfect world, there is so much movement in the classroom. Even when students are writing a test or a quiz, you’re up and walking around. This is certainly not a perfect world and people are supposed to sit at desks for the most part of the school day.

Laura Wheeler takes on this notion and lets us know that there are things that can be done to get the blood moving even in the current reality.

In the post, she explains why it’s important to have some movement in the classroom and shares a playlist of activities she’s curated to be done during breaks.

This is yet another example of how educators are seeing puzzle pieces strewn on the classroom floor and are taking the time to put them all back together. Using this metaphor, I think that it’s important to realize that you may have to smack some of those pieces to make them fit at times.


The 500 – #404 – Dr. John’s Gumbo – Dr. John

I really enjoy this series of blog posts from John Hodgkinson as he takes us through a list of great 500 albums. I hadn’t through of Dr. John for a while and when I do, I think naturally about

The song would be so important in our current time and place. If nothing else, turn up the volume and play it loud.

It’s not on this album (Iko Iko is) but there are great tunes nonetheless.

John gives us a description of the influences in Dr. John’s music including the connection to voodoo. It’s an interesting read and, he’s inspired to think about how to greet students in his classroom.

  • Everything is an influence for good or bad. I’ll remind my young charges to be mindful of the world around them and tap into its inspiration.
  • The teen-years are a fertile time for passionate pursuits…pursue your passions.
  • I will continue to foster the academic and artistic pursuits of my students. Unlike Mac’s Jesuit teachers, I’ll never give them an ultimatum.
  • Persevere and Adapt. Challenges are opportunities for greatness in disguise.
  • Quirky, flamboyant, wild and weird are positive descriptions. Be what you are meant to be … Let your freak flags fly!

Some inspirational thoughts here. Could you use them?


Networking in a Pandemic (key to survival)

OK, I love anything that Zoe Branigan-Pipe writes and when I’m in the first sentence of her post, I’m over the top!

My favourite Beauty and the Beast photo from a OSLA Superconference where led the Great OSLA Faceoff

I’m glad that I wrote that reflection post about my experience. In her response, Zoe takes us through her network and the value that it brings to her. I’m impressed with how our networks overlap.

If you’re new to networking or if you’d like to tweak your own network, take an opportunity to “meet” those in her post. You can only get better connected when you include them in yours.

In closing, hi Zoe, you’re not the only one to read your post and we’ll hold you to your promise of blogging at least once a week!


Commiserating With Others Over Their Technology Woes

Finally, back to the Heart and Art blog and a post from Tammy Axt.

This is another photo essay – about teaching this time. Technology works well except when it doesn’t.

Tammy is teaching in a hybrid environment and so is being observed with a couple different set of student lenses and everything just needs to work.

What happens when it doesn’t? It happens for all of us. I can just image the Help Desk at her district when she sends in these images to report problems.


I hope that you will take the time to click through and read these terrific blog posts. There’s great stuff there for all.

Then, make sure you’re following all these people on Twitter.

  • Michelle Fenn – @toadmummy
  • Elizabeth Lyons – @MrsLyonsLibrary
  • Patti Henderson – @GingerPatti
  • Laura Wheeler – @wheeler_laura
  • John Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher
  • Zoe Branigan-Pipe – @zbpipe
  • Tammy Axt – @MsAxt

This post appears first on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


As you know, this post is finalized on a Thursday and scheduled for Friday morning at 5:00. It’s raining a bit right now and so I’m getting a jump on things. I’m downloading another Macintosh update (they keep threatening to stop supporting my 8 year old machine but the updates keep coming) and my radio station is playing “Magic Man” by Heart in the background. The only thing that’s better would be to check in on some blog posts from amazing Ontario Edubloggers. Here’s some of what I caught this past week. I’m delighted that so many of them were new to me.


The Work and Auditing a Yearbook

Melanie White was a guest host on This Week in Ontario Edublogs (download the podcast here if you missed her live) As a Department Head, she is responsible for things happening in her department and she forced herself to do an “audit” of the yearbook after an email concern coming from a student in her school.

It was like a previous blog post that I had read on the Heart and Art blog from Arianna Lambert. The student was concerned about the lack of representation in the yearbook of events that happened during Black History Month and that an image covering that was put in the “School Spirit” section.

This threw my mind back to my own high school yearbooks and how I addressed them. I was essentially a consumer since I never worked on it but I did what I suspect most people did. I eventually looked at it from cover to cover but first I checked out places where I expected to see myself. Home room, basketball team, wrestling team, … After all, the yearbook covers a school for a year but it should also document what I did during that year. It’s not an easy job. To overlook my contributions would be a slam. Every student should see themselves there and not just a subset of the school.

Melanie goes on to talk about some of the research she’s done (with links) and how it’s impacted her thinking. One of the new terms that I picked up from the post is the concept of the “inclusive yearbook” and what that should mean.

Her post may end up having you pull a yearbook off your bookshelf and taking a look at how your own school is represented. There’s nothing wrong with a new lens.

This is an important read for you this week.


MOVING AWAY FROM REMOTE EMERGENCY LEARNING

Jason Lay has an underlining couple of messages in this post.

First, everyone was thrown into this emergency learning environment as a result of school building closures. I think that it’s important to mention this all the time. The building closed but the school didn’t shut down.

Good teachers taught; those students that stayed with the program learned. Most people will acknowledge that it wasn’t the same and wasn’t as effective but they made it work to the level that they could. It’s a new school year in September and, while we don’t know what it might look like just yet, the expectation should be that it will be better than this past spring since everyone has more experience in the emergency learning environment.

The second point is a not-so-subtle dig at the way that technology has traditionally been used in schools.

“Inadequate professional development and training” discloses that it may not have been used well face to face and so didn’t really have a fair start in the emergency. School districts need to learn that throwing iPads at a student audience, loaded with apps, and sending them off to “play with it” isn’t effective for the long haul. I should note that the word “training” above grinds my gears. I’ve mentioned many times that you train a dog, not teachers.

Many subject associations have stepped up to the plate to offer professional learning opportunities for teachers. Jason will be sharing his story late in August; the timing scares me because there are all other kinds of things that will be happening in the teaching world as people prepare to return to whatever turns out.

There is a big missing piece in all this and that is all the new teachers that will be going into their first classroom this fall. Are they prepared and equipped?


Your Virtual Classroom is not a Classroom

The title to this post from Franziska Beeler intrigued me and so I just had to read her thoughts.

Virtual classrooms probably aren’t the same as regular classrooms but they’re the only game in town for the past months.

Teaching in-person versus teaching online isn’t just a matter of a different delivery system. Teaching online not only changes the outcomes but also the very product of education as we know it: the classroom.

Into the discussion, she brings McLuhan. I thought this was both fair and unfair.

Fair because truly people were working in another medium although it often appears to function differently depending upon the device chosen.

Unfair because I always felt that McLuhan’s message implied that people had a choice of medium to use. In this case, there was no choice. The classroom indeed had become virtual.

A serious point to consider as well is that a classroom shouldn’t just be a vehicle for delivering content. It may have been that way this spring as a result of convenience but I’m sure that teachers all over the province are planning to do more than just deliver content this fall.


What Does Race Have to do With Math?

Author of “Everyone Can Learn Math“, you’d think that Alice Aspinall would have all the answers. The recent events with the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movements have made her look at her own classroom and subject area.

Add to that the rationale behind the ending of streaming in Grade 9 in Ontario schools and you have all the pieces for a deep reflection and she took to the EduMatch Publishing blog to share her thoughts.

She notes that she’s long been an advocate for involving girls in mathematics and that seemed natural to her. It’s her “place of confidence and comfort”. Stepping back, she’s now become aware of the lack of Black, Indigenous, and students of colour in her classrooms. Where they’ve chosen mathematics as a course option, they’ve been streamed away from the higher level classes. I can understand how this is a difficult issue to embrace and admire her efforts to bring it forth in this blog post so that all can share in her observations and wisdom.

It’s a wonderful reflection and will undoubtedly ramp up her enthusiasm for exciting all students to engage in all mathematics courses.

I would think that this is the type of reflection that all parent, students, educators, principals, and importantly guidance counsellors should engage in. It will be interesting in a year to follow up and see if she can indeed make a difference.


Fostering Literacies to Empower Life-Long Learners: A Look at the CLA’s Leading Learning

Around here, I have nothing but respect for teacher-librarians and how they’re reinventing themselves. It doesn’t take long to find a teacher-librarian who blogs about their move away from the traditional library.

While this is the topic studied in this post from Laura Beal, she approaches it from the perspective of a visitor to the learning commons and what it can do to support her work in literacy.

Coming from Upper Grand, it only makes sense that her paths had crossed with Alanna King and she cites Alanna’s Master’s work. In particular, she focuses on the notion of transliteracy which is an amalgam of “information literacy, critical literacy, digital literacy and citizenship, cultural literacy”. Instead of considering these as distinct literacies, the notion here is a blend of the concepts.

Laura indicates that she’s on the way to become a teacher-librarian herself and has embraced Alanna’s and the Canadian Library Association leadership. These are definitely two terrific resources.

Good luck with your coursework.


Avoid the Summer Slump: for Secondary Students

And Laura’s post led me to the teacher-librarian guru’s blog herself where she’s sharing some advice for secondary school students for the summer.

For everyone, it’s going to be a different summer. For students though, it may be especially difficult. Normally, these students pick up on various jobs throughout their communities. What happens though when those jobs don’t exist?

What’s a librarian going to recommend to avoid just sitting in a lawn chair?

Sit in a lawn chair and

  • Read widely
  • Read Canadian 
  • Buy yourself a new notebook 

Why?
Alanna has a rationale for each of those points.

How?
Alanna has suggestions there for each

Teacher-librarians have all the answers.


Be Kind Be Calm Be Safe

For me, it was always Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”. But for Tammy Axt …

Over the past 15 years, I have played a little Kool and The Gang’s Celebration to kick off summer. I usually do a little dance down the hallway and groove my way out of my classroom. This year, I got up from my kitchen table, closed my computer and walked 3 steps to the kitchen for a glass of water. “Ce-le-brate Good Times Come On!”

Then she has her own advice for educators for this summer, concluding a spring like no other

  • Be kind
  • Be calm
  • Be safe

and she elaborates fully on each of them. Terrific advice.

(I’m sorry to read that she fell at home. I hope she can take her own advice and be safer.)


Please take the time to click through and read these posts at their source. Note that Laura has changed the address of her blog if you’re bookmarking things.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Jason Lay – @jlay02
  • Franziska Beeler – @franziskabeeler
  • Alice Aspinall – @aliceaspinall
  • Laura Beal – @BealsyLaura
  • Alanna King – @banana29
  • Tammy Axt – @MsAxt

This post originated from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to another Friday and a collection of wonderful blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.


A virtual climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro – Join Us!

Here’s something that everyone can get involved with at home. Paul McGuire was planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro this summer. Obviously, that’s out given our current situation.

But, like many activities that would normally be done in real life, Paul and his Christie Lake Kids team have gone virtual and they want you to join them.

No, not there, but your location.

Each day for seven days we will put out to those who are interested 1) a step count that approximates the steps you would take on that particular day (8-10,000 steps); 2) a commentary embedded for you to listen to that goes over what that day on the trail is like;  3) a video log of that day by Arienne Parzei; 4) a conditioning follow-along video by Chase Tucker; 5) some music to inspire you for your day; 6) some Kilimanjaro interesting facts and; 7) a fun African recipe.

Why wouldn’t you do it? Or at least part of it?

Remember – “Communities move mountains”


Saying, “I am not racist” is not enough pt 1
Saying, “I am not racist” is not enough pt 2

From the ETFO Heart and Art of Teaching and Learning blog, there are a couple of posts from Will Gourley.

This is a very transparent and open commentary on what we all are experiencing in our communities and watching news on television.

In the first blog post, Will shares what he considers his level of privilege. I suspect that many of you will be nodding your head in agreement with his observations.

In the second blog post, he outlines what he plans to do personally about things. It’s an admirable plan.

Throughout, he makes the very valid case of the difference between “I am not racist” and “I am anti-racist”.


The Future of eLearning

Staying with the Heart and Art Blog, Deborah Weston shares her thoughts about eLearning and our future.

Given that we are at a time in history where a pandemic is pushing school work onto eLearning platforms, I can see growth in the technology of eLearning platforms for many students.

Nobody chose to have us where we currently stand. But, teachers have answered the call and are doing the very best that they can given limited professional learning, access to technology for themselves and students, lack of preparedness for the variety of tools, privacy, security, etc.

As she notes, there is an absolute flaw in Ontario’s implementation of Online Learning. For years, we’ve embraced and worked with the notion that one solution isn’t appropriate for all students. Yet, Online Learning is forcing many to back off and try to make that notion fit.

The ultimate solution can’t be a memo from Mowat Block. It needs to seriously listen to parents, students, teachers, and administrators. There is no one size fits all solution here.

I believe that school districts, federations, and subject associations need to step up and provide professional learning opportunities for addressing classrooms effectively in the fall. When you consider that the typical teacher studies for one or two years at a Faculty of Education, a few hours at the end of the summer just doesn’t seem appropriate. Teaching is a profession of continuous growth and learning and needs to be respected at this time.


Good Will: it’s what holds the education system together

This is a very personal post from Tim King. Tim share the mathematics of his own involving salary, hours worked, hours volunteered, and professional growth taken.

Despite all this, teaching position have been lost. The current scoreboard is available here.

I think that any teacher who reads this post will share a feeling of the same story in their career. Teaching isn’t a 9-5 job with other hours left for other things.

Teaching is a commitment not only to the learning of students but also to the interactions with those students to prepare them for their future lives. Throw in marking, lesson preparation, and all of the other activities that happen outside of the physical school and you get the picture.

All this for 1% while Members of Provincial Parliament vote themselves a cost of living raise!


W is for Wonder

Lynn Thomas is still working on the alphabet!

This is actually quite a long blog post with a great deal of thought and contemplation on her part – obviously aimed at wondering what the upcoming school year will look like.

In particular, she addresses

  • What will school look like in September?
  • How will mental health and well being – of students and teachers – be supported?
  • What about equity?

As Stephen Hurley noted in our radio show – curiouser and curiouser. Lynn does a terrific job of expanding and sharing her thoughts on each wonder.

To Lynn’s well-thought-through list, I would add another …

Are School Districts and is the Ministry of Education prepared to fund any solution so that it’s done properly with the interests of students foremost?


Dad’s Gold

Melanie White adds her thoughts about her husband in this entry to the Our Dad Shoes blog post.

The post is a heart-warming collection of stories – even this Minnesota Vikings fan could cut some slack with the Green Bay Packers construction helmet logo.

I can’t help but be moved by the personal family stories about how they got to where they are today and the character(s) her husband assumed to help in difficult circumstances.

May her boys always honour this

The boys see his tenacity, his unwavering commitment to them, and he knows their teasing is loving kindness. But they don’t know that their dad is an alchemist who transforms the unimaginable into living gold.


No Title

For me, the power in Matthew Morris’ posts lies in the stories that he tells through his lens. I’ve mentioned many times; I can have empathy but can never fully understand his reality. His posts do help with that.

It’s easy to listen to podcasts or to read blog posts from people sharing what a wonderful job that they’re doing in this very difficult time.

But things have become more difficult

These teachers don’t literally kneel on the necks of children but some suffocate them of future opportunity by their mere position of privilege and power and pretentiousnes

As Matthew notes, school are grounded in what they consider stability. I think he makes an argument for serious consideration when he compares the stability of education with the stability of society.

You need to read and ponder the points in this post.


I hope that you can find time to read through all of these posts. You will learning something from each of them.

Then, follow these bloggers on Twitter.

  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Deborah Weston – @dr_weston_PhD
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Lynn Thomas – @THOMLYNN101
  • Melanie White – @whiteroomradio
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris

This post comes from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

How do you foster technological innovation?


In the past month, I enjoyed both the Harrow Fair and the Western Fair in London.  One of the things that you’ll find at any good fair is the midway filled with fair food, the newest in farm equipment, and of course, those games.  You know them – Whack a Mole, throwing darts at balloons, shooting big basketballs into little hoops, the fish pond, and more.  All of these stops are intriguing even though I know that the games are next to impossible.  (at least for me…)

The games aren’t impossible though.  You see all kinds of people stepping up and laying their money down for a chance to win that big stuffed animal.

Why?

If you watch carefully, when the booths are empty, the counter workers play the games and do so successfully.  Is it boredom?  Nah!  It’s part of their job!  In addition to showing how it’s done, they’re talking the talk.  It doesn’t take too long before they convince everyone within eye and ear sight that they can do it too – even if they’ve never done it before.  They even change the rules a bit to give everyone a chance.  That little guy that hangs around with us is a perfect example.  (and he went 4 for 5 too and won a duck)

fair

I wasn’t allowed the stand on the counter though…

Shouldn’t the rules of the midway apply in education?

The rest of this post is directed at those who would be leaders and supporters of change.  What are you doing to support those who would like to try things in their classrooms?  Are you supportive?  Are you leading?

I think everyone would like to think that their school system is right on the leading edge.  This includes reaching out to teachers and students who would like to use the latest in technology but know that there will be a bit of a learning curve, with some stumbling blocks.  Is that OK with you?  Are you showing the way by example?

If the use of Web 2.0 tools is important to you and your school, are you using them?  Or do you create a memo in your office tool, convert it to PDF so that it can’t be changed and then email it to staff members individually?

Do you collaborate for staff meetings or initiatives like you’d like to see collaboration happen in the classrooms?  How about the easiest and perhaps one of the most powerful tools – the blog?

If blogging is important to happen, are you blogging yourself?  It’s quite one thing to sit back and issue an edict that you want blogging to happen in the school, but quite another to be supportive.

Here are some ideas to be supportive

  • write your own blog – you’re probably doing a newsletter anyway;
  • comment on each and every classroom blog – time well spent – advertise class blogs through your own;
  • be a guest blogger on a classroom blog – help the cause with some of your insights to a classroom topic;
  • let the class interview you on a topic and have them post the interview;
  • take your smartphone for a walk and do a scavenger hunt of the school and have the students explore and discover;
  • take your smartphone and show images of the monthly theme – let the kids share their thoughts;
  • do a show and tell, bring and brag, at the next parents’ group meeting;
  • create and share a webquest via blog post – you’re passionate about something;
  • go through that filing cabinet and turn your great lessons into lessons to be shared with others;
  • you were a teacher before – what can you pay back to the profession?

We talk about the need for kids to be “Google-able”.  What about you?  If the only results are your name on the front page of a school or district or perhaps embedded in a copy of the minutes of a meeting, it’s time that you up your game.

With a bit of effort, you can push the innovation process along.  Today it’s blogging; tomorrow – ?

Always Learning, Always Connected


On my first day as a program consultant, I asked my superintendent what was the best way to introduce myself when visiting a school for the first time.  His answer made me smile “Just let your reputation open the doors for you”.  Whatever you do, don’t say, “I’m here from the board office and I’m here to help you.”

I still remember that conversation.  As I was assembling the interview blog post from yesterday, I was really struck by a comment from Brenda Sherry.

When I’m asked to coach in a school, for example, it’s not really just me who visits but my whole network, as these are the resources (people and ideas) that I rely upon in order to maneuver effectively through the learning landscape of today’s world.

What an interesting and appropriate comment to read in the year 2012.

Ask anyone not in the teaching profession and it’s likely that you’ll get the opinion that the teacher is the sole owner and dispenser of information and knowledge to students.  I think it’s something to be expected.

For the most part, we (just about anyone who reads this blog) graduated from a system where we expected that our teacher knew everything about the subject matter and our goal was to be able to learn 50% or more of it.  The more we remembered and was able to pass back on an exam, the better the mark.  To reinforce the concept, we attended college or university where our abilities to soak it all in was truly tested in classes of 2-300.  In a way, I think that’s why some of the tenants of video learning are so popular.  Watching a video of someone solve a mathematics or science problem reminds us of our classroom experiences – only better.  We can replay the video many times until we understand.

Such an environment is far removed from the real classrooms in today’s schools.  Even the notion that Brenda’s employer sees the need to hire a technology coach is confirmation that the classroom teacher can’t possibly know it all.  In her interview, Brenda acknowledges that she doesn’t know it all but she sure knows where the resources lie. They lie in her network.

There may have been a time when collaboration meant working with the other teacher of the same subject.  That’s not enough.  Having that “whole network” of ideas, resources, colleagues, teams, dissenting opinions, links, like minds, … is priceless.

In a district the size of Brenda’s, it’s unlikely that she’ll be able return to that classroom working with teachers and students day after day.  Yet, the true value will accrue to those who watch and listen when Brenda says “I have an idea from …” or “Let me connect you with …” or “I saw …’s ideas about this”.  The true value lies in the connections.

At this point in 2012, I think that Brenda has truly nailed it.  If there’s one thing that she can leave behind after one of her visits, it’s that there’s a whole connected world just waiting to be accessed.  You just need to make the connection.

I also hope that you, dear reader, are nodding your head as you think about her comment.  A connected teacher is the most valuable asset that any system calling itself a 21st Century institution can have.

Are you connected?  Are you connected enough?  Are you one of the people who Brenda takes with her when she visits schools?