This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Well, it’s been a bit of a cooler week but it sure was warm out. I hope that you were able to take advantage of it. I hope that you were also able to enjoy blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. I know I did and here’s some of what I read.


Questioning Experts More Than Expertise

Noa Daniel was guest host on This Week in Ontario Edublogs on voicEd Radio and we had a chance to talk about her latest post. It reminded me of a quote from a former superintendent to those of us in the Program Department.

An expert is someone from out of town…

I don’t know if that was an original quote or he was sharing it from someone else. His context was about paying big speaker fees to bring in someone to talk on Professional Development Days when we had the capacity already within the board. Those of us in the Program Department were to find those with the expertise and encourage them to share it with others. Why pay to bring in an “expert”?

In the post, Noa takes on her view of this and I enjoyed her thinking. I also thing that it’s more important than ever with the lack of travel bringing in “experts” to address educators. Why not work with the expertise within a district where they can address local issues directly rather than some hypothetical situation somewhere else?

Does COVID push us away from outside of town experts and towards celebrating the expertise that we are developing locally? Something to think about.


Two Approaches to Building Online Communities

Diana Maliszewski’s post follows Noa’s very nicely. I think that most of us understand the power that can come from online communities. So, how do you build that community?

Diana identifies a couple of different ways.

One is modelled by the work from Matthew Morris and Jay Williams with their #QuarantineEd initiative. It’s an online community of learners, building on the efforts of the group of contributors with a direction by Matthew and Jay. Matthew talked a bit about it when he guested on This Week in Ontario Edublogs and shared the numbers. It’s grown from an experimental conversation with TDSB educators. And, it’s caught the attention of the Toronto Star.

The second scenario is something that many of us have seen many times. An existing user will tag you or plead to the masses to follow this new account. The prudent social media user will, of course, check that person out before inviting them into your community. Many times, that person has contributed nothing to date. Why would you want to embrace them? My rule has always been “You’ve got to be interesting”.

Diana includes here thoughts; she’s a skillful navigator of social media and I think you’ll find her advice incredibly helpful.


What ARE Kids Learning?

It was great to see Stephan Pruchnicky back at the keyboard sharing thoughts again. It was kind of sad to read about why he wasn’t and I hope those days are behind him.

He’s got one message in this post and it appears in big letters.

I think it’s a great reflection point for teachers, students, and parents.

Are we so focused on teaching being covering materials specified in the Ontario Curriculum that we’ve turned a blind eye to other important things that might have been learned?

Something to think about going forward.


Forward.

I had to smile at Beth Lyon’s comment that it was only towards the end of June that she finally decided on her word of the month. You’ll recall that she didn’t choose a year long “one word” and instead opted to do one per month. Given all that’s happened, it has turned out to be a genius move.

It’s easy to lose track of time. I bought a Lotto Max ticket last Saturday and kept checking it with my OLG app, getting messages about it that seemed bizarre. Then, after a bit of thinking, I realized that it was for a draw on Tuesday and not Sunday or Monday when I was testing it. Keeping track of time is a challenge these days.

Beth makes reference to a couple of excellent blog posts from other Ontario Educators, Lisa Corbett and Amanda Potts, and uses that to force her thinking and come with a new direction for the month of July.

The post is dated July 3 so I hope she’s nicely back on track.


How To Make Math Moments From A Distance

From Kyle Pearce and Jon Orr, a really, really long blog post under their MakeMathMoments umbrella.

I’m not sure that I can truly sum it up in a paragraph or two but I really found the content interesting. It should serve as a reminder that mathematics is everywhere; it’s beautiful; and it’s really relevant.

Many of us grew up with mathematics being the stuff that is covered in mathematics textbooks. There was content, questions, and answers. For me, it was third year with Ross Honsberger in a course called “History of Mathematics” where he showed us the fun, beauty, enjoyment, and the relevance of mathematics being everywhere.

It’s such an important concept and one that lives with me and it’s easy to see mathematics everywhere. In the post, these gentlemen give us some great examples that go far beyond the typical questions you might find in a textbook. Bookmark this for future inspiration and resource.


Distance Hugs: My Self-Reg Stumbling Block

I kind of knew that Aviva Dunsiger wrote this post on the Merit Centre blog even before I read through the article.

I know Aviva to be a loving and caring teacher and I would suspect that displays of affection have a home in her kindergarten classroom. Things there are so much different from the students that I taught. My students might have had gestures of emotion but I would never expect a hug to be part of the mix.

In the offing for her and her teaching partner at the close of the school year was a thank-you gift from a student and a parent. Aviva wondered if there would be enough control for her not to hug the child or the child not to hug here. It’s an interesting and certainly relevant wonder these days.

She describes how hugs are like currency in her classroom.

  • Kids use hugs to connect with others.
  • They greet us in the morning with a hug.
  • They look for a hug when they’re sad, scared, angry, tired, or hurt.
  • Hugs comfort many of our students, especially in that first month of school, when leaving home is one of the hardest things that they have to do.

You’ll have to read the post to see what happened and Aviva’s musing about what things might look like in the future.


WRITING: PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

It takes a brave person to write a summary about a blog post talking about writing but here goes…

On the TESL Ontario blog, Milica Radisic takes on the topic of writing and I found this observation interesting.

Second, since almost 90% of my students are highly educated, have done a number of university courses and presumably read a number of books, I wonder why they make mistakes that, at least to me, seem basic.

Gulp!

In the post, she shares her thoughts about

  • Run-on Sentences
  • Commas
  • Transition Words

I wonder about my own writing. Quite frankly, the last time I took an English course would have been in Grade 13. There were the odd essays that I was required to do in some subjects but I missed most of that because my course choices were largely Mathematics and Computer Science. By their nature, there is writing but it’s more technical than anything else.

Since I started writing for this blog, it’s been a return back to those secondary school skills. I find that I’m using a semi-colon more than ever and I did do some research to make sure that I was using it correctly. There’s always the nagging feeling that I just might make an error and, because it’s so public, everyone would see it.

I found reading this a really reflective activity and, as a regular blogger, I do want to do my best. I hope that I can live up to this standard.


Please take some time and click through to read these posts in their original form. They’ll get you thinking.

Then, follow these writers on Twitter.

  • Noa Daniel – @noasbobs
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Stepan Pruchnicky – @stepanpruch
  • Beth Lyons – @MrsLyonsLibrary
  • Kyle Pearce – @mathletepearce
  • Jon Orr – @MrOrr_geek
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca
  • Milica Radisic – @milicaruoft

This blog post originated 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.