This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Welcome to another Friday edition of This Week in Ontario Edublogs. #twioe It’s cool here but I’ve heard reports of you know what in other places. Stay warm and read some great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers.


Living in the age of incivility Part 3 – The Iron Cage that is the school system

This is a rather longish post from Paul McGuire and even longer if you click through and read about “The Cage” and I would encourage that and thank Paul for including it.

As teachers, I think we’re all aware that a school district sets a direction and all teachers are expected to follow those directions. There are consequences for not playing along. I couldn’t help but think about this skit from Monty Python.

On one hand, people are encouraged to be creative but one the other hand, only when it’s within the rules.

As teachers, we always had the ability to contact our federation if we felt that we were treated improperly. Paul’s experience reminds us that principals are not part of any federation and are basically on their own.

In my mind, “The Cage” has become more of a thing with the amalgamation of school districts into super boards. More than ever, it’s easier to manage from the top if everyone follows the dictated rules.

The question should be asked – what type of school system results?


Back to Life, Back to Reality…

When a blog post starts with bad news and then good news and there’s still a great deal to read, it’s hard to predict!

Jen Aston lived with the message that she would be in a portable classroom for the school year. That really isn’t good news. There was a glimpse of sunshine when she was directed not to do too much setup. Because things change. In 2020? Really? <grin>

It sounds like she ended up in a better than expected classroom – a large room in the primary area of the school. That’s good news.

What’s in the rest of the post? It’s an interesting discussion about what’s happening in Mme Aston’s classroom in the various subject areas. If you know Jen, you just know that beekeeping would end up being part of the discussion.

Click through to see how!


Student Virtual Room Tutorial à la Bitmoji Classroom

Larissa Aradj shares with us an idea that she used from earlier this year. She had students design room; not with a drafting tool but in Google Slides.

She includes some pictures of what has been done by her students. They don’t need to maybe draw their own personal room but the room they’d like to have? It’s interesting to explore these images. As you might imagine, if you take a quick look, you might miss a great deal. Take some time, blow up the pictures, and see all the messages that are there.

Since it’s done in Google Slides, it seems to me that there are some interesting additional things that could be done. Make some areas hot spots so that you could open the books on bookshelves or any of the other objects in the room.

I’m also thinking that if this just one big collaborative slidedeck, the teacher could be hiding that Elf on the Shelf within student’s rooms and have them looking for it regularly.


Deciding whether or not to make the switch…

This really is a sign of the times in the fall of 2020. Some students have elected to start the year face to face and others have decided to do it online.

Depending upon the first decision and how it’s going, it should come as no surprise that students may wish to change their mode of learning. No surprises there and the rise in number of COVID people in the province might be forcing a new reality.

To manage this, school districts have set a date by which families must declare how it is that their children will go to school. That date determines the last date that they can switch, at least for now.

Kelly McLaughlin lays out the reality in her district where the date is November 3. To help parents, she’s created a pro and con information resource for them.

Of course, I know just what everyone is thinking – another reorganization of the schools and classrooms.


7 Reasons Why I’ll Miss My 7s

I fell for Diana Maliszewski’s teaser for this post

So I cried at school on Monday and I cried again at school on Friday. Different reasons; apologies to my in-person colleagues who were worried/alarmed at 1st. (Consider this a “teaser trailer” for this Monday’s blog post.)

— Diana Maliszewski (@MzMollyTL) October 10, 2020

and I held a spot for it.

You can feel her emotions come through in the post and I wish that I could be there to give her a hug. Split grades are a reality more than ever but imagine a school that looks like this…

JK-SK, 1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6-7 and 7-8

The staff got together and reorganized as

JK-SK, 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8

In this reorganization, Diana ended up having to pass off what sounds like a great group of Grade 7 students.

Now, keep in mind that in the TDSB, things have been in a flux so she hasn’t had a stable classroom since the first day of school. And yet, she is able to identify a bunch of attributes for these students and how they wished her goodbye. Hence the tears.

You just have to read the post.


Slice of Life: ***

I gained even more respect for Lisa Corbett after reading this blog post. Truly.

It brought back advice from my father – you can do the wrong thing and you can do the right thing. The wrong thing might make you friends or help you through a situation but doing the right thing will let you sleep at night.

The bottom line is that you have to live with yourself when things are done and you should never have to apologize for doing the right thing.

Do the wrong thing and you might be doing some explaining for a long time to come.


Bicycles for the Mind

It was great to see Helen DeWaard back blogging again.

This time around, she reflects as a result of watching the Social Dilemma.

This film, ironically warehoused within the Netflix collection, is touted as a “must watch” docudrama bringing a critical view to the impact of social media on the cultural fabric of society

She makes the connection for analyzing the moving using resources from the Association for Media Literacy and shares her questions with us.

A discussion of this also appeared on #OnEdMentors. Read the post for her analysis of things and check out the podcast on voicEd Radio for the group discussion.


Please take the time to read these posts in their entirety.

Then, follow these educators on Twitter.

  • Paul McGuire – @mcguirp
  • Jen Aston – @mme_aston
  • Larissa Aradj – @MrsGeekChic
  • Diana Maliszewski  – @MzMollyTL
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Helen DeWaard – @hj_dewaard

This post originates from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


What a week! It was so warm hot here. I guess that I can’t complain too loudly though. The Sun Parlor was not the hottest place in the province. It looks like it’s going to get cooler for the weekend. Isn’t that doing things backwards?

Read on to enjoy some of the recent posts from Ontario Edubloggers.


Simple Steps to Reopen Schools

This post comes from the mindfulness side of the Stillnesshub blog and written by Safina Hirji.

I’ve read a lot of blog posts recently about how to re-open schools. They’re typically full of ideas about the mechanical and logistical side of things. All of that is really important for safety and I’ll admit to reading many of them.

This post takes a different tact though.

It focuses on students. What a concept! But, it’s not the sort of thing dealing with assessment and evaluation, content, and other teacher things. True to the theme, Safina deals with student mindfulness. She touches on four areas.

  • Mental Health and Well-Being through Mindfulness
  • Individualized Learning Opportunities
  • Mindfulness with acquiring knowledge and building skills
  • Accessing the right Tech Tools for Collaborative, Synchronous Learning

It’s a good read and a powerful reminder that opening schools is more than unlocking doors.


How Not to Start Math Class in the Fall – 2020

Mark Chubb’s post is a nice followup to Safina’s. Like her post, he’s got a great deal of concern for the student and their re-introduction to school, specifically for mathematics.

I suspect that most teachers go through a process of pre-testing to assess strengths, weaknesses, and current levels of understanding in the first part of a mathematics class.

But this is not a regular year, whatever that is. We know that things have been less, far less, than idea over the past while. Then, add two months for summer holiday.

Mark takes these notions and expands with recommendations about just how to start and a list of things to reflect on.

We’re still an unknown period of time away from knowing when and how things will open but there’s some great inspiration here to get things going in the back of your mind at least.


The Way I Felt

Amanda Potts says she “hate the poem I wrote” and that’s a shame because it’s a very power piece of media.

Inspired by the recent announcement that schools would remain closed for the rest of spring, her first reaction was that the air had been sucked out of the room.

I’m not a big poetry critic but I really felt that she laid her teaching soul bare with her thoughts and I’ll bet that you’d feel the same way.

It starts…

No more waiting
for people who don’t know me
to make a decision about
my life
my family’s life
my students’ lives
my community’s lives.


TEACH LIKE A DAD

From the Our Dad’s Shoes blog devoted to issues about Fathers and Fatherhood comes this post, from Will Gourley. It is actually a post he’d written in the past and brought forward at this time. It fits nicely into the theme.

He discusses four attributes of fathers:

  • Consistent
  • Fair
  • Honest
  • Protective

and does a great job about it and offering a tribute to his father.

There is a natural connection to teaching because, as we all acknowledge, our first teachers were our parents.


My List Of 10 Self-Reg Things That I’ve Learned

From the Self-Regulation blog, Aviva shares a list of things that she’s learned about self-regulation and herself at these trying times.

  • Exercise
  • Breaks
  • Fidget toy 
  • Too much social media
  • OK to put yourself first
  • Social stressors are online
  • Why and why now?
  • Stress behaviours multiply online
  • Saying hello
  • Importance of routine

Aviva joined Stephen Hurley and me as a guest host on This Week in Ontario Edublogs, did a nice job and got a chance to elaborate. There were three of these topics that I singled out to hear her speak about, in addition to writing about it.

Fidget Toy – she sees a need for one of these in her future as she hesitates to jump into discussions with students. I had to smile, I play with my mouse when I’m listening to others

Social stressors are online – we all know about the stresses due to social media but what about the social interaction that goes on in the online classroom. When to jump in, when to lay back, …

Saying hello – Aviva notes that it’s OK for some students to jump into a class and not necessarily be active for the entire session. It’s OK just to say hello and sit back and watch. Just being there can be enough at times


Good Coffee Activity

From the STAO blog, this is a really interesting resource unit.

Who doesn’t get up and get a daily charge with coffee?

This is a free to download secondary school curriculum complete with the expectations that can be addressed with its use.


Pandemic Reflections: Surrender as a Survival Technique

I know that Tim King speaks for thousands of teachers in this particular post. He lashes out at many things, many people that are players in this “absolutely terrible school year.”

I like the success story that he shares (and had pictures on Facebook documenting it) when he and family were allowed into the school to put together some computers for colleagues.

I can understand his feeling of exhaustion but was taken aback when he indicated that he was feeling defeated. I’ve never heard that from him. Then I look at my own household. My wife is delighted when she needs to leave the place to address some essential service in town.

There are so many lessons to be learned from those on the front lines during this time. As Tim notes, our leaders had assumptions about the readiness for a shift in teaching and it’s been proven wrong over and over again.

For me, the low point of all this was the political statement about expecting teachers and students to be regularly engaged in synchronous communications. For that to work, so many assumptions had to be made. I know that many teachers have tried and some have been successful but I suspect they would have been successful without the directive anyway.


Please click through and enjoy these posts in their entirety. There’s so much great thinking.

Then, make sure that you’re following these folks on Twitter.

  • Safina Hirji – @SafinaHirji
  • Mark Chubb – @MarkChubb3
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Will Gourley – @WillGourley
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • STAO – staoapso
  • Tim King – @tk1ng

This post originated on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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