This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Good Friday morning! Hope you have a quick Friday (at least it’s a Friday the 14th) and on to the weekend. Oh, and check out some great blogging from Ontario Edubloggers.


Love the Interview Learning!

From Sue Bruyns, some thoughts about interviews. Personally, I hated them when I was on the being interviewed side. I was always afraid that I’d say something stupid; sometimes my speaking exceeds my thinking ability. What the heck, most of the time that happens. That’s why blogging and the ability to proofread and edit suits me well.

I did have occasion to sit on the other side of the table and it really isn’t any better watching the interviewee squirm. Apparently, Sue enjoys the interview process and explains why in this post. What I found interesting was the approach of asking interviewees to bring in an artefact and share that with the interview team. I think it’s a great approach as it shifts the control away from the people doing the interview and lets the person being interviewed take control over something they’re very comfortable talking about.

So, Sue walks us through the interview. I found it interesting and brought back memories for me of times when I sat in one or the other chairs. It’s a necessary process, I suppose, but I still get the shaking nerves when I think about it. Of course, Sue has such a wonderful style about her, I’m sure that she would make you comfortable for the interview.


Friday Two Cents: Daily Routine

If there’s one way to maintain sanity and get results in education, it’s having a healthy and regular routine. Paul Gauchi writes about a personal experience when that happens to fall off the rails.

I think he speaks for most people in the province when he says

During these past months there has been nothing but turmoil from the government: are we going into virtual learning or are we staying with the in-class option?  It goes back and forth, back and forth.

It’s pretty difficult to build a regular routine when that is your reality. He notes the shortage of occasional teachers and that only adds to the situation.

I think we all look back at the past year with a critical eye and that’s done here, in the concept of a routine. What happens when that routine stops? What happens when you rebuilt the routine?

Read about it in this post.


Windows #SOL

I’ve been sitting on this post from Melanie White for a bit because it’s kind of sad, kind of insightful, kind of nostalgic, …

She starts by talking about cleaning windows which immediately made me think of this Safety Last! scene.

There’s a husband story here about cleaning windows to start the post but she ends up with a thought about classroom windows. Supposedly, they let you look outside, but you really only see a subset of what’s out there. In my teaching experience, most of my time was spent in a windowless classroom. The outside was neither a distraction nor an inspiration. When I did get a classroom with an outside window, it was one of those tall windows that you’ll find in an air conditioned building. It was slightly better.

But, I got thinking … all that comes into play when teachers and students are in the same room looking out the same window. What happens these days with remote learning? Everyone has a different window, if they have a window at all. What’s missing as a result? Can there be a meeting of the minds?


Thoughts on online teaching

Every0ne in education is reflecting on this and Lisa Corbett adds her thoughts. Particularly with the oddities of teaching online, planning and maintaining a schedule is crucial for success.

As Lisa notes, there are other things to remember to schedule – feed your own children.

It’s the teacher mentality and we’re all guilty of it. Everything about those students in our charge is important. We’re supposed to know them, be a social guidance, mentor, inspiration, and sometimes the more important things are devoted to whatever time is left over. Sure, we all know that’s wrong but we all do it.

Time is such a big deal in education and Lisa notes another upcoming time crunch – five weeks of teaching content and four weeks until report cards are due.

Gulp.


Les moments décisifs

Joel McLean gives a nice discussion about decisive moments, at the same time revisiting the notion of routines.

He works with the premise that we are a society of instant gratification – but what happens when it doesn’t come right away … The Valley of Disappointment!

I think we all go through this daily. What’s so frustrating is that horizontal axis. You plod along it never knowing what’s going to happen next. We rely on the fact that there will be an upturn —- but when?

I’m going to give a shout out to educators. We may not be able to see the future but we absolutely know that, if we stay the course, that curve will bend and we will see results. It’s just disappointing, even frustrating, until that happen.

Joel’s formula for success?
Patience + Perseverance + Effort = Decisive Moment


Anti-oppressive student placement cards

I’m a bit out of my element in this post on the Heart and Art Blog from Deb Weston. She tagged me in it and there was a ton of responses to it so I know that it resonated with many. It never really affected me – I was the only computer science teacher in the school so if you wanted that subject, you got me. Full stop.

Of course, the world isn’t all like that and Deb shares her thoughts.

She identifies past practices for placement of students in classes.

Past Student Placement Cards:

  • Gender: Blue cards for boys, Pink cards for girls
  • Academic success: High, Medium, Low (circle one)
  • Language: High, Medium, Low (circle one)
  • Math: High, Medium, Low (circle one)
  • Special Education Support: formal/informal IEP (circle one)
  • English Language Learners: Steps of ELL for Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing
  • Students to place in same class with:
  • Students to not place in class with:
  • Attendance issues: Yes/No Reasons for absence:
  • Student Behaviour: Big “B” and little “b”
  • Parental issues: Big “P” (big parent problem)

Then, she addresses the assumptions and issues with this approach and puts forth an alternative way of looking at things. It’s an interesting and informative read. You might want to pass it along if you’re able to influence the process.


The Annual End of Year Pressure

I guess it’s an annual event – summer is coming and there’s pressure to ensure that all that needs to be addressed in the class is, in fact, done.

Kelly McLaughlin takes a look at her world and feels that there is more pressure than normal. I think that’s perfectly understandable. How many times have educators had to shift gears this year? Then, there’s the whole “are schools going to re-open in June” thing.

One of the things that educators have had to learn on the fly is assessment in its current form… i.e. at a distance. Never mind the actual teaching, consider the whole assessment picture. All of the traditional techniques and observations have been rethought in the current reality.

Kelly shares her plans for the month of June and the things that she has planned – coding and health among others as well as some of the approaches and resources that she has been using just to get to this point.

I like the fact that she was so open with this – the more that people share good ideas, the more we realize that the wheel truly doesn’t need to be reinvented.


Please take some time to click through and read these wonderful posts and drop off a comment or two.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Sue Bruyns – @sbruyns
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Joel McLean – @jprofNB
  • Deborah Weston – @DrDWestonPhD
  • Kelly McLaughlin

This week’s This Week in Ontario Edublogs podcast can be accessed here:

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Check out these recent posts from Ontario Edubloggers.


Watch Birds and Savour Books

From Jessica Outram, two terrific suggestions for what to do when you’re at home and not going anywhere.

The entry point for both is low but the payback can be very high. Around here, we have two bird feeders hanging just off the patio and, as the temperatures get colder, it gets very popular. Neither of the neighbours have a feeder so we’re the only place around here to eat. So, it’s not uncommon to see the whole gang as the weather gets colder.

It makes Christmas gifts easy to give. A book on identifying birds, bags of sunflower seeds to attract Blue Jays, …

If it ever gets boring (and it doesn’t), there are always quick trips to Point Pelee or Jack Miner.

I enjoyed Jessica’s story telling of how things play out for her with birds. At times, it seems like you’re looking down at a vibrant community. Are people watching us in this way? Do any of the birds that dine here make it to her place? Like most of her posts, she tells an interesting story and you’ll want to read it all.

Then, there are the books….


OneWordx12: Are you in?

A New Year. A New Word.

There are actually a couple of interesting and relevant blog posts from Beth Lyons to check out this week.

The first one proves that she saw something coming in 2020 by doing the whole #oneword thing a month at a time instead of choosing one word for the entire year. I found it really interesting to go through her list of 12 words and try to map out (or guess) what was happening in her personal and professional life.

Then, she starts off 2021 with her word for January. I thought that this was an interesting choice. Yes, it’s one word but she uses it in a number of different contexts just to illustrate how complicated things are these days. I’m not going to mention it here because I think you owe it to yourself to visit her blog to see her writing.

I am going to use one of her thoughts as inspiration for a future blog post. Maybe tomorrow.


Ask

Wow! That’s all that I could say when I was done reading this post from Amanda Potts. What an opportunity for her and for her students!

So, she’s bought into Beth Lyons’ concept of a word for a month and “Ask” is January’s word. After reading the post, I’m guessing that it wasn’t in place on December 31 but it’s certainly advice with a real example of success for all.

I know that people are looking for mega-inspiration activities for students to keep them engaged in online learning. So, out of boredom? or inspiration? Amanda wrote to a number of authors of the books her students are reading in class.

In 20 minutes, she had an confirmation from one of the authors that they would drop in virtually to her class and interact with them. What an opportunity.

Amanda summed it nicely when she said that all she had to do was Ask. Awesome.

During the This Week in Ontario Edublogs show on Wednesday, I asked Stephen Hurley is he was willing to share his expertise in Podcasting to a class that was interesting in taking the leap. He was very enthusiastic about the prospects so if you’re considering it, why not ask? He’s on Twitter as @Stephen_Hurley.

No pressure, Amanda, but I’m looking forward to a blog post from you sharing with us how your online guest worked out.


SIMPLIFYING ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION WITH GOOGLE ASSIGNMENTS – E033

The EduGals are back!

They have an interesting approach to sharing this message. It comes as both a podcast and a blog post.

I had to do a screen capture here just to show you that apparently they’re everywhere you get your podcasts.

I was doing some other work and listening to them in the background and was actually quite interested in their marriage of Brightspace and Google Assignments.

I’ll be honest here; I can pick up quite a bit by listening but this is so rich in content that I needed the blog post to completely understand their message. I thought that they had done a nice job in their explanation complete with their own documented captures.

If you’re using this combination of services, there’s probably some wisdom here that will make your job easier.


Saltwater

I’d only recently followed Hema Khodai’s blog and was pleased when my RSS program indicated that there was something to check out.

Interestingly, the content didn’t come from her but from another educator, Tharmila Apputhurai. The post is only a couple of paragraphs long but I’ll admit that it was one that brought out so much emotion in me.

During 2020, I think I’ve heard so many different personal reflections about what COVID means. But, nothing like this.

I felt as if I had been ordered by my acca to stay in the bunker until the sound and sight of the violence was gone.

I did have to look up “acca” since it was a new term to me and that even further personalized the message for me.

I hope that the message of healing in 2021 rings true.


What’s Your Superpower? Mine Is Teaching!

If there’s a testament to why I follow people on Twitter, this is it. I’ve followed Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge for a while now and, quite frankly, she’s been a person that pops up on my FollowFriday list regularly.

Recently, she shared that she had a blog post for us to check out. And I did.

I can’t imagine that, after 2020, there isn’t a teacher who hasn’t felt being pushed further in their profession than at any other time. Nilmini is that boat and shares a list of 10 things and reflections about her feelings.

  • Strike a Balance
  • Discover Your Network
  • Ah, this thing called Technology
  • Be Yourself

You’ll have to click through to discover all 10! I’m betting that you’ll find out all kinds of things about her and probably yourself in these days.

I don’t know if I could agree with “Discover Your Network” more than I do as I write this. I’ve had my network for years now and daily I’m inspired and uplifted by the connections that I’ve made.

Since Ontario Educators are connected anyway these days, why not created your own Personal Learning Network for ideas, inspiration, and people to plan with?


A #VisibleLearning Look At My Playing Reality: Finding Joy In Remote Kindergarten

I’ve always said that they don’t pay kindergarten teachers enough. I’ve often felt exhausted just walking by their classrooms.

In this post, Aviva Dunsiger pulls back the curtain and gives us an inside look at her classroom, activities, and all that it takes to pull it off. It’s a long post but worth putting time aside to read.

There are interesting personal thoughts about what she thinks she’s doing. I always found it interesting to compare what I thought I did with my principal or superintendent in the debriefing after being supervised. My thought always was that I was overly hard on myself. How about Aviva?

So, she lays it all out there in this long post full of thoughts and documentation and she’s looking for advice. Do you have any?


It’s been another great experience to read these posts and then share my thoughts with you. There’s such a wide range of topics. I hope that you can find the time to click through and read the originals.

Then, follow these people on Twitter.

  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram
  • Beth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Amanda Potts – @ahpotts
  • EduGals – @edugals
  • Hema Khodai – @HKhodai
  • Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge – @NRatwatte
  • Aviva Dunsiger – @avivaloca

Exceptions


When all this COVID stuff hit our radar this past spring, I was impressed with the Premier’s approach. It truly looked like “we’re all in this together”. In fact, I blogged in favour of the actions that he and the Prime Minister were taking. We didn’t necessarily like the measures that we were asked to take but we took them.

Then, somehow, things changed. There was a determination that we were somehow coming out of this and rules were relaxed. Then, we went through different stages of treating things, later to be dealing with colours.

Amidst all this, we started to see exceptions to the rules. We now know that big box store are OK, smaller retailers aren’t and we’ve got kind of a mish mash of things happening in our world.

With all these rules, we’ve come to understand that there will be exceptions to the rules. I’d like to think that they’re carefully thought through but some of the decisions just befuddle me.

The latest puzzle starts today. Despite the province being in a lockdown situation, there are essential services that have to continue. The government has a plan for “Targeted Emergency Child Care for School-Aged Children”. The City of Windsor has details of the plan here. By visiting the page, you can see the list of approved sites to provide the childcare and then this big list of people who are eligible for the plan.

If you look through the list, it’s difficult to argue with any of those professions. While I haven’t worked in any of those ones, I value those who do and the functions that they provide.

It’s just who is missing that really upsets me. Educators!

School resumes today, as ordered by the Ministry of Education. For the most part, it will be remote teaching but there are certain educators that are required to be back in the building, face to face with students with special needs, without consultation.

So, despite the Premier coming out to news conferences telling us how he loves educators, they will be forced back to teaching with no provision for care of their young children. To be fair, there are educators who don’t have children or do have children but they’re old enough to work independently and aren’t affected as much as others. I hope that they look around their virtual staffroom and feel the pain that their colleagues with younger children are enduring.

In my social media feed recently, there have been two messages that I’m seeing over and over.

  1. The promise from the Minister of Education that teachers would received “training” on online teaching before school resumed in September and people letting us know that it didn’t happen other than a missive to “use Google Classroom” or “use Brightspace” (regular readers know that I hate the expression “training” when it comes to educators. You train dogs…)
  2. The true concern of not having a solution for caring of their own young children who can’t be left alone. Many are reporting that they’ll have to enlist the help of grandparents who were otherwise alienated during Christmas because of the directive to not have family gatherings. Others are planning for a modified “take your kid to work” event. Others, as I write this on Sunday morning, are just plain worried and have no plan

I’m also reading that some school districts aren’t prepared at this time for moving their elementary school classes online with technology. Some have indicated that today will be spent contacting students’ parents to find out who needs to borrow school technology. Now there’s a JIT (Just In Time) solution.

In spite of all this, teachers are consummate professionals. At personal expense to their own health, finances, and well-being, they will make this week happen. They’ll use their personal devices because often school purchased equipment doesn’t come with suitable cameras or microphones. They will learn on the job the value of having at least two monitors to get the maximum benefit from the online teaching experience. Secondary school teachers have had the first part of the year to refine their skills; for others this will be all new for this school year.

They’ll play by the rules because they came into the profession to do the best job that they can as educators. They will make it work because there is no alternative.

Rules are rules.

Until the next exception comes along.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I know that there’s a big sigh of relief across the land for today. Congratulations for all the effort that it has taken to get this far and I wish all readers the best for the holiday. As usual, here’s a great collection of recent writing from Ontario Edubloggers.


The Journey Continues

I’ve followed Beth Lyons all year with her one word that she’s taken month by month as opposed to the year long choice others have made.

She wrestled with a word for December

  • teacher
  • decenter

And gives really good reasons for not selecting them.

Sadly, she questions her effectiveness as a teacher-librarian in these days as things are completely different. Things have changed a bit and she’s being called into action a little more so feels good about that. But, my dear Beth, everyone is feeling challenged and frustrated at every turn. I think we all know that you’re giving the same 125% that all educators are and that should never minimize your feelings about your impact. It’s different for everyone.

Anyway, click through to read the word that she finally chose for the last month of the year.


Writing in front of them

Man, I loved this post from Amanda Potts. I’d like to meet this Torin who missed out!

Beyond that, though, we’ve all had embarrassing moments that have us turning red in front of students. Amanda’s story is done in the best of educational pedagogy and yet had an interesting turn.

She could have turtled but decided that she’d gone too far to turn back and became very frank in front of her students.

The result? She claims that her students turned in some of their most honest writing work. You’ve got to like that.

And, you can’t help but think that the same results would never have happened if her lesson had been the sort of contrived activity that didn’t result in embarrassment!


LearningInTheLoo: Scan to Email

This will bring a smile to your face.

Given a loophole in the use of washrooms at her school, Laura Wheeler was back at providing professional learning activities while taking care of things when nature calls. I’m making a leap here assuming that people don’t go to the washroom just for the PD.

The activity is something that every educator should know.

A networked photocopier can do more than print copies to paper.

In this case, Laura shows staff how they can scan to email and then take care of content electronically. Not only is it an efficient way of handling things, think of the paper that can be saved.

And, managing files can be easier than binderizing sheets of paper.


Earth Day: Call for Submissions 2021

As a result of this post from Jessica Outram, I’ve added a new word to my vocabulary.

eChapbook

It’s an initiative that she started last year and it marries the concept of poetry and Earth Day. This year’s theme is “Learning from the Earth”.

Click through to read about the initiative, how to participate, and the rules with timelines.

I can’t help but think that there might be huge interest in this so help a colleague out, read the post, and share it with others.


Overjoyed – A Christmas Tale with an Ed-Tech Twist

Like Amanda’s post above, there are things that prove that teachers and students are human after all.

Terry’s post brought back some memories of my own as a student and as a teacher when it comes to Christmas assemblies.

The memory in this case – overhead projectors and Christmas song lyrics. Somehow, the classic “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night enters the picture!


Treadmills Near Me

It’s a gazillion dollar industry so you might find it bizarre that there is a person that doesn’t like a treadmill. Other than me, there’s Matthew Morris.

I’ll be honest; we had one in our bedroom and it became a place to hang clothes. It was purchased with the best of intentions for getting fit. Or, at least getting moving.

Quite frankly, it’s boring and my bad knee just became worse from using it. We ended up giving it to my daughter along with our best wishes. I should ask her how it’s going.

If you ever wondered if someone could paint a story about a treadmill, you’ll be interested to read this post from Matthew.

I wonder what he feels about dog walking. It’s an exercise that you can’t put off. At least three times a day.


In the Midst of Life . . .

Slow death and muffled grief

Joan Vinall-Cox shares some writing and an image that really hit me emotionally.

It hit at close to the same time as the news of the issues at Schlegel Villages.

Joan, this is a powerful piece and I know that you didn’t write it with me in mind but you hit me right between the eyes.


Please take some time to click through and read these wonderful blog posts.

Then, make sure that you follow these folks (and their blogs) on Twitter.

  • Beth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Amanda Potts – @Ahpotts
  • Laura Wheeler – @wheeler_laura
  • Jessica Outram – @jessicaoutram
  • Terry Greene – @greeneterry
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Joan Vinall-Cox – @JoanVinallCox

This post is 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 chance to take a look at some great blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. As always, you won’t be disappointed with this great content.


#girlswhogame – Part 2

From Roland Chidiac, this is a followup to his Part 1 blog post from a few weeks ago. Read the blog post and you’ll see where Roland and the #girlswhogame are heading now in their learning.

Spoiler – Minecraft

Unlike games of old that are often first person shooter types, the gaming in this classroom includes work with:

  • solve problems using an inquiry process
  • think of and express questions in order to generate novel ideas
  • think about their thinking and have a growth mindset
  • participate in team work
  • communicate effectively in a variety of ways
  • understand how they are globally interconnected

Of course, all of these concepts are fleshed out in the post and it comes complete with pictures so that you can get a sense of what it looks like in Mr. Chidiac’s classroom.


Friday Two Cents: Society Cannot Function Without Women

Paul Gauchi shares with us some observations from his recent tour of occasional teaching. He’s noting that many of the teachers he’s working with are female.

In a discussion, as I’m sure happens in all schools, the reclosing of the school buildings is a topic.

Paul offers two reasons why he thinks it won’t happen.

First, he shares his thoughts that the politicians view schools as daycare. Secondly, he wonders about teaching positions being undervalued and expands the list to include a number of positions that are traditionally held by women.

He then takes a turn and offers a solution that might help the cause. As a father of two daughters, I didn’t find it a particularly easy post to read.


No Longer School Online

Regular readers will know that I really appreciate a good reflective post and Terry Whitmell looks at the first part of the school year and the successes that her school had with online instruction.

  • Teacher Networking
  • Student Agency
  • Consistency
  • Tools
  • Efficiency
  • Organization
  • Professional Learning
  • Student-Student Connection
  • Success

In the voicEd Radio show, I took a bit of liberty with Terry’s post and used the work Efficacy instead of Efficiency. I really liked her observations about how students took control of their educational lives. In a normal school setting, the structure is imposed on students but she observed their taking control of things. That seems to me to be one of the most important things from this post.

The post is written from the perspective of an administrator. I’d love to know if the teachers at the school observed the same things.


Step Down #SOL2020

Melanie White had me a bit emotional as I read this post. It was difficult to read because she uses “step down” as a delimiter throughout the post. It really was effective as it made me slow down and really mull over her thoughts.

Her thoughts took me through a sense of loneliness as she walks through her school describing what she sees. It reminded me of my own secondary school where we had an old part and a new part. The new part probably could have been a school anywhere in the province but the old part was really unique and yet, at the same time, similar to the building that Melanie describes.

I know that I’ve mentioned it before but her writing can be so moving and she’s done it again.

Then, the bottom fell out when she describes an airless room with Grade 9 students and her efforts to change that. While only a few people could have written something this emotional, I would bet that the emotions and the imagery she uses could be the words of so many others.


Social Distance Games & Activities

The day before I read this post from Larissa Aradj, I’d driven by French Catholic elementary school and students were outside.

Normally, that’s nothing to take note of but the ground was wet and it was the activity that the students were doing that caught my attention. They were lined up, physically distanced of course, and they were doing pushups as the teacher walked along in front of them. I was witnessing a Physical Education activity.

That took me back to my football coaching days!

This year, Larissa has picked up classes of Physical Education herself. It seems to me that that really is a challenging assignment these days. In the good old days, you’d have soccer balls and other tools of the game trade. These are not allowed these days so innovative ways to keep students engaged must be found. In this post, Larissa shares some ideas and links to professionally created activities. It’s a good collection to pass along to colleagues. Thanks, Larissa.

Hey, how about burpees?


Changing the narrative

I found this an interesting discussion from Alanna King. And she’s right; every curriculum document and course of study is presented chronologically.

My “yah, but” came from Computer Science where you build capacity in that matter; it you jump ahead, you overlook key concepts. I mean, what Computer Science teacher hasn’t had to stop in the middle of a lesson to explain something that was not apparent to be missing when you started.

Alanna’s talking more about the big picture in the humanities and that got her thinking about educational structure.

Good questions.

(Alanna, I felt badly that I started at the top of your list and read down)


Creating Engaging Lessons with EdPuzzle – E029

From the Edugals blog, a link to their podcast and the notes to go along with it. The topic this time around was EdPuzzle.

Reading this made me feel old!

EdPuzzle is a tool and a technique for helping students understand the content of a video and you’re probably thinking YouTube. I read an article recently that children put more credibility behind something from YouTube rather than something teacher created. When you think about it, it makes sense.

I actually was “formally” taught about how to use video in the classroom and the lesson went far beyond the play button. It involved noting the timer, having a sheet of questions, and most importantly a remote control. So teacher centred!

In the post, the ladies take you through the process as a teacher and a students and offer some sample codes so that you can experience what they’ve been working with.


There’s lots of great content yet again this week that will inspire you and help you take your game to the next level. Please take the time to click through and read all of these wonderful posts.

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

  • Rolland Chidiac – @rchids
  • Paul Gauchi – @PCMalteseFalcon
  • Terry Whitmell – @TerryWhitmell
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Larissa Aradj – @MrsGeekChic
  • Alanna King – @banana29
  • EduGals – @EduGals

This post comes from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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