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.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


And, just like that, it’s June. It’s been the longest three months and yet March Break seems just like yesterday. We’re now hearing of schools that are opening so that things that got left behind in March can be picked up. I’m not sure that you could write this as a story. And yet, here we are.

Here we are again for another Friday and an opportunity for me to highlight some terrific blog posts from Ontario Edubloggers. I hope that you can come with me and enjoy their writing.


Who has the Courage to Evolve?

When I first read this post from Deana Gordon, I immediately thought of Peter Cameron’s post challenging the notion from the Minister of Education that the system has pivoted.

This post comes from the “Authentic” Side of the stillnesshub blog. Labelling the notion of what’s happened in Ontario this spring as authentic is absolutely appropriate.

Deana notes that it’s very easy to find the negative but the reality is that teachers are on the job and everyone wants to do the very best for their students.

So, they need the courage to see things differently, reorder life and job priorities, express more gratitude and face the things that we run from. The courage to evolve indeed.


Exit Outcomes

I’ve been a participant of badging as a child through swimming lessons from the Red Cross and Royal Life Saving Society and then as a Wolf Cub and Boy Scout. The concept is to learn a skill, demonstrate a proficiency in it, and then demonstrate that proficiency to a tester that awards a badge for success.

We’ve seen badging or credentialing all over the place, typically for teachers. Microsoft, Google, and many software entities offer badges for teachers to put on their website or other social media as a way to give them cred with visitors.

Amy Bowker is looking at the concept for her classroom going forward. Whether schools are back in classroom or online learning continues, there undoubtedly will be more focus on digital portfolios to demonstrate skills. She’s created herself a set of credentials for expectations with varying levels of proficiency.

In education, we often think that the motivation to do well is a mark at the end of a course or year. Why not recognize smaller achievements ongoing throughout the year?

One takeaway from all this Learning at Home stuff has been the challenge of maintaining motivation. Perhaps ongoing badge collection would be helpful.

I think she’s on to something here.


Slice of Life: Flat

The question went out to students in Lisa Corbett’s online classroom. Has anyone got any mail?

<crickets>

But that was about to change as students from her class opened letters to reveal “Flat Mrs. Corbett”.

Like that other Flat guy, the challenge of taking a picture with Flat Mrs. Corbett in various places was on.

Would the impact have been there if it had been emailed?

Of course not, there’s just something special about getting personally addressed mail.

Spring in Ontario didn’t go by unnoticed here. Sweatshirt and sandals!


Emergency Assessment: Are We Growing Success(fully)?

Patt Olivieri takes us on a deep dive thinking about assessment and growth in these emergency times. She was inspired by a Twitter message from Brandon Zoras that generated quite a bit of discussion. As Brandon notes, the document has the flexibility to be melded by professional educators and many are doing so at this time.

I can’t do justice to this post except to encourage you to read it at least a couple of times. It’s rich in content and ideas and a section encouraging you to focus on what matters. She addresses a number of things there but there was one that really leaped from her list for me.

‘P’ is for Pandemic not PD – learn one thing well from a place of curiosity and care, not panic.

This was an important message for me. My job was Professional Development among other things. In order to stay on top of things, I was always learning because I wanted to.

In these times, people are indeed learning new things just as a way to survive. You could easily panic and feel a need to learn outside the traditional route. But good learning comes from curiosity, not from threats.


YOU’LL EARN / LEARN SOMEDAY

I’ve really been interested in the posts from the ourdadshoes.com blog. It’s a space for people to talk about being a father and honouring your own father.

This post came from Chris Cluff.

There’s a terrific opportunity that Chris has when going to university. He had the opportunity to meet up with his father at Union Station and take the train with him back to Oshawa. I’m jealous; I didn’t have that opportunity.

Of course, on the train, there might be a discussion between father and son. Chris had the opportunity to ask his father why he chose the profession that he did. The answer might surprise you so you need to read the post in Chris’ words.


THE IN-BETWEEN AND THE OTHER SIDE

This is another post from the ourdadsshoes blog, this time from Rolland Chidiac. He concludes with this piece of wisdom.

Whether you have a dad, are a dad, or want to be a dad, do what you can to enjoy every minute of your experience because once it’s gone, you can’t ever have it back exactly the way it was. 

Rolland shares that his father passed away young leaving many things between the two of them hanging.

Rolland lets us know that it was painful for him to write the post, thinking of all the memories that he had, and then he does find the power to share some things with us.

I’m so happy for him that he’s able to see his father in his children. That will let the memories be good and live on.


Sketchnote book summary for When by Dan Pink

The concept of organizing thoughts has never been so important as it is these days. People have different ways of organizing; I tend to use bullet points in a document or a graphical tool. I do recognize that my resultant notes always tend to look like a timeline or a flowchart.

I’m envious of people like Laura Wheeler who have the ability to create Sketchnotes as their way to organize. I enjoy it when they share their creations; in this case, it’s the book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink. I find it easy to understand the message that she has diagramed.

I just can’t do it myself. I’ve spent way too much time trying.

Maybe I should just come to the conclusion that it’s not just for me. I really do appreciate that Laura shared her work with us.


Please take some time to click through and read these inspirational blog posts. There’s some great thinking there for you to enjoy.

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

  • Deana Gordon – @dgdocfree76
  • Amy Bowker – @amyebowker
  • Lisa Corbett – @LisaCorbett0261
  • Patt Olivieri – @pattolivieri
  • Chris Cluff – @chrisjcluff
  • Rolland Chidiac – @rchids
  • Laura Wheeler – @wheeler_laura

This post appears on:

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.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


I hope this is Friday. All the days seem to be the same anymore. If it is, it’s the weekend ahead. What are you doing to celebrate?

I might have to cut the grass again.

It was a major sense of accomplishment here to roll the calendar forward a day to schedule this post for a new month. It’s the little things.

Anyway, enjoy some of the recent works from Ontario Edubloggers.


If you aren’t still in a school library…

Beth Lyons shares a reflection about life as a school librarian who isn’t going into a physical library these days.

And then she asks

Am I still a teacher-librarian?

It’s an important question to ask. For many of our who were out of the classroom during major disruptions to the normal, it is something that we always pondered “You wouldn’t know; you’re not in the classroom”, “You don’t have to do report cards”, …

I think it’s natural to see yourself as having a bulls-eye on the forehead at times like this and to do some self-examination.

But step back a bit. There are thousands of teachers who aren’t in their traditional classroom. That doesn’t make them less of a teacher. More that ever, being in a school isn’t the defining factor of teacher. Similarly, being in a library doesn’t define who is a teacher-librarian.

The rules have changed, to be sure. But the things that make a school a school continue. The same applies to Teacher-Librarians. While a classroom teacher knows her/his curriculum backward and forward, a Teacher-Librarian typically knows everyone’s expectations. It seems to me that they can be the best resource a teacher working with a class online can have. While all the resources many be digital for a while, the Teacher-Librarian can be working harder than ever providing research and assistance for colleagues. Beth shares what she’s doing in the post.

Here’s an excellent read to support that notion – School Librarians Take the Lead During the Pandemic.

I think it’s normal for everyone to ponder their abilities with these new situations. Now is not the time to pull back; it’s more important than ever to be visible to others and supportive like never before.


Setting Up Communication with Students in Distance Learning

Alanna King shares an insight to the learning space that is carved out of the King household where she and Tim are now working with their classes.

This post is a wonderful story and truly answers the question “Can students get involved in community service during this time”?

And, it comes from Tim King’s Computer Engineering students. He shared a form with staff members indicating that his students could offer some technical support. In Alanna’s case

I would like a secure Google Doc/Form way to communicate mark updates with students. I’m wondering if we can use something like DocAppender on a spreadsheet to mail merge a column to users with a specific email address e.g. 72 goes to aking@ugcloud.ca and then to have the recipient create a read receipt/digital signature to confirm that they have read it.

One student stepped up with a solution and documented it via a YouTube video.

In these days with all kinds of stories swirling, this is just so inspirational. I hope that the rest of the staff is tapping into this resource. It just has to lighten their load and put their mind at ease knowing someone has their back if they run into problems.

Where do you look for support at this time?


Leadership and Learning under Lockdown

Sometimes, it definitely are the little things that we take for granted and Sue Dunlop reaches out with her experience during the lockdown in her section of the world.

When you think about it, Education is all about timed events. The morning bell is at #.##, National Anthem and announcements at #.##, Every class is ## minutes long. You have exactly # minutes to travel from one room to another otherwise you’re going to be marked late. Lunch is at ##.## and final dismissal is at ##.##. Everything is programmed and timed down to the last minute.

If you’ve ever tried to make an appointment with a superintendent at her/his office, you have to go through a support staff person and will be given a time slot during the course of the working day.

For the most part, the classroom or office door is closed (literally or figuratively) while work is happening. It’s what we do. It’s what we’ve done since kindergarten. Education is no place for a timetable non-conformist!

In light of all this, there are special moments and that’s the point of this post from Sue. You go to the mailroom or the staffroom or out into the hallway between classes or a whack of other quick moments when you’re not switched ON. Those happenstance moments are what Sue is missing at this time.

She’s trying to replicate it during lockdown. And yet, it’s still not the same. Even to have an informal chat on a video conference, you typically have to schedule a time when all participants are able to be there.

Sue concludes with a call to action for leaders to contemplate once they’re back together. I suspect it will be a part of a long list of reflections about this experience. If nothing else, I’ll bet that we all have a deeper sense of appreciation of those moments.


It isn’t a pivot, it’s a giant leap

When I coached football, we had three quarterbacks and one of them was left-handed. We had one play that required a “pivot” and what should have been simple (I thought) wasn’t for everyone. One took too it easily and the other two had challenges. It didn’t come across as a natural action for one and for the left-handed one, it was difficult to even describe because the play was a mirror reflection. I am right handed and there’s no way that I could gracefully demonstrate what was needed.

I learned there that things aren’t always easy and transferable. Peter Cameron has a very distinct edge in voice with his advice to the Minister of Education calling the transition from regular classroom teaching to “Emergency Distance Learning” a simple pivot. His words brought back that football memory immediately. It was almost surreal because I can’t remember the last time I actually ever used the word pivot.

If I had to select an educator that I would think could make the move to distance learning relatively easily, Peter would be high on my list of choices as I consider him well connected. But, like so many, he notes that his misses the daily interaction with students. So, he definitely hasn’t simply pivoted to the new reality.

In other news from Peter, he shares a reminder of the upcoming MAD (Make A Difference) PD event this weekend. Details are here.


Math Links for Week Ending Apr. 24th, 2020

David Petro is always good for some resources for Mathematics and, with his deep understanding of it and the Ontario Curriculum, shares resources and ties them directly for classroom teachers.

This week’s collection resources, video, and images featured a flash back to FEUT Professor Fraser who was part of my teacher education. He shared this puzzle…

It was a wonderful puzzle and I was thinking about coding a solution when I scrolled down and saw that someone had created a moving example illustrating why it works.

The other important takeaway from David’s post announces that, although the annual OAME Conference is cancelled, there will be a “virtual OAME” in its place. Everyone is invited and it’s free.

I look through the sessions and was proud to note some names from my former school district and most certainly many folks that are part of my #FollowFriday posts. It’s a nice replication of the traditional conference including door prizes.


DigCitTO and the future of conferences

DigCitTO had dropped off my radar. It’s a short duration event normally held face to face. Driving all the way to Toronto, finding parking, etc. really makes it prohibitive.

But, the organizers went ahead and held the event anyway, shifting to the online world. Editorial Note: microwaving something from M&M pales in comparison from the great downtown Toronto food.

As it turned out, I could only drop in a couple of times for a few minutes to see what was up.

In this post, Diana Maliszewski shares her conference attendance (or partial attendance) including a session that she co-presented. All in all, good reading.

She did close with some musing about the future of conferences. Some, perhaps, could live in an online presentation world. I think that those of us who have attended sessions know that online that they can easily turn into a “sit ‘n git” with the worse of them. It really takes a skilled presenter to bring interactive elements into such a session. I look to Speaking Bureaus to provide learning into engagement techniques because this will be our future for a while anyway. Diana has a question mark beside the OLA Superconference. Gulp.

Regardless, there are so many things that I would miss – exhibit halls, interactive sessions, hugs from friends, first meetings with new friends, walking a strange city, finding old friends and meet up for dinner, sitting in a pub or bar sharing war stories and so much more. Organizations use the opportunities to foster partnerships and use attendance fees to fund themselves. So much would change if this format was lost.


Classrooms After Covid-19

How’s this for coincidence?

Shortly after I scheduled my post for Re-opening questions, I got a message from Deb Weston that she had written this post.

Like my crystal ball, Deb took the opportunity to envision what classrooms might look like once teachers and students are able to return to them.

She has a nice discussion on the various elements as she sees them. There are just so many concerns and decisions that have to go into the planning. While my approach was largely from my thoughts in a secondary school background, she brought into focus what an elementary school might have to plan for.

What comes through in both of our posts is the concept that schools are a large mass of humanity compressed into small facilities. Bizarrely, the media seems to be spending more time reporting on how baseball might open or hockey might wind down than what schools re-opening might look like.

The biggest cost item (other than hand sanitizers) would be staffing and she takes some time doing the mathematics and predicts that a 42% increase in the number of teachers would be needed.

I’d like to suggest that both posts would be good reads and “look fors” when the bell rings. You can’t just flip a switch.


Please find some time to click through and read the original posts. We live in interesting times and there are some great thoughts generated.

Then, follow these folks on Twitter.

  • Beth Lyons – @mrslyonslibrary
  • Alanna King – @banana29
  • Sue Dunlop – @Dunlop_Sue
  • Peter Cameron – @cherandpete
  • David Petro – @davidpetro314
  • Diana Maliszewski – @MzMollyTL
  • Deb Weston – @DrDWestonPhD

This post originated on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


You know, you don’t really appreciate something until you lose it. I’m feeling that this week in my loss of freedom to just go and browse my way through a store. It’s not that I do it a lot but the important part is that, in another time, I actually could if I wanted to. I just can’t now.

I did have a fulfilling moment last night. A childhood friend of mine had a crashed iPad and I was able to give her some advice and she’s back online now. My price was very affordable compared to what Apple would have charged. I got:


On to some of the great things that crossed my keyboard this week from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.


COVID-19 & Education

Shelly Vohra offers some candid advice about attempts by the Ministry of Education to promote e-learning or online learning or what you may wish to call it. She echoes some of the observations that have been talked about here and in other places. It is in stark contrast to the comments coming from some of the right-wing news sources in the province. They just don’t have a clue. The sad thing is the number of anonymous comments. I don’t reshare because I don’t believe and yet I can’t resist the urge to read the garbage that they are spewing. Like I indicated previously on this blog, you can’t equate one person with a computer from their employer and an internet connection with a teacher trying to teach a class of students with varying needs and just as many varying computer configurations. That is, of course, if the student is fortunate enough to have a computer and an internet connection.

Shelly points out, with respect to the Minstry’s assumptions that this is a good thing:

  • The first is that educators were not consulted in the creation of this ‘resource’
  • Secondly, the ‘resource’ doesn’t take into consideration the diversity in our student population
  • my third issue with such a ‘resource’ – the issue of equity.

We can’t overlook that this will be a good resource for some and certainly school districts are, or have been directed to, share on their website.

Shelly promises a followup post with some of her ideas.


How The Coronavirus Should Impact Education

Matthew Morris takes on the topic of how all this should affect education. He thinks that we’ll all play out and make the best of things in the short term. He focuses instead on the future.

So, what does happen if and when the balance of the school year is cancelled.

I did have to smile just a bit when he took on society’s perspective of Physical and Health Education. Is it a nice break from the rigours of the classroom or does it have a more important role?

And, where do report cards fit in?

This post is a nice focus on reality.


Illness, Shame and the Educator Martyr Complex

From the ETFO Heart and Art Blog, Michelle Fenn makes some observations based on the current reality and some of the realizations that can come from it.

We all have experienced the various scenarios in Michelle’s post. We have indeed dragged ourselves into work when we should have stayed at home.

We all have those emergency lesson plans that are tucked away for such an occasion and hope that we never need them.

We all know the panic of going to bed well and waking up ill. What will the kids do?

At some point, we’ve all had the experience of going into work when we really shouldn’t. As Michelle notes, we’ve made gains through collective bargaining about how to take care of ourselves. Sadly, there are employers that want to cut into this. There’s a huge difference in workplace activity between dealing with a full timetable of students who might be sick and some other professions that are nowhere near this. I still can’t get over that moronic Twitter message that I read indicating that teachers will get through COVID-19 because the experience of dealing with coughing the spreading a of germs of the classroom will help them.

Ironically, we have an entire province that has shut itself down due to a virus and those that are really worried about the impact of the lack of doing their jobs and the students they’re charged to work with are the teachers.


Exceptional Times: Using a Pandemic to Close the Digital Divide

Tim King follows up on a previous blog post where he addressed the challenges of having insufficient internet access at school for his needs with this post.

Now, he takes the concept of connectivity globally. I found his reference to the Loon project interesting. Note that this video is at least three years old.

And, of course, you’ll need a computer to attach to the network. He cites two sources; one being the unused computers at schools right now and the second being the Computers for Schools project.

I would suggest that all this is a start but won’t get us where we ultimately need to be. My internet service provider uses LTE and Satellite; it’s part of Canada’s rural solution. I had to send a warning to Stephen Hurley earlier this week that our voicEd show might be in danger when I ran a Speedtest and got this.

Image

Stephen recommends at least 2MB for success. Fortunately, it was a bit better for Wednesday morning. Had I needed the speed when I ran the test, I would have been out of luck. Imagine being a student at home relying on synchronous connections with a teacher.

The second part of the equation involves getting computers in the hands of students. One solution is to provide repurposed computers with a Linux environment and have them connect to a network with those specifications. The problem with older computers is that repairs and getting parts can be a challenge when things go wrong. I have a Dell (not exactly a generic machine) with a flashing orange light indicating that it doesn’t recognize the battery that it came with. It’s not likely that I’m going to shell out money for a new battery for this older computer.

On top of all of this, we make reference to this as a solution to those students whose families cannot afford their own technology. So, the poorer get a bandaid solution?

Despite my negative points above, a solution like this needs to be found. Traditionally, we’ve looked to public libraries as an evening solution but when they’re closed, that option is out.

Looking for a solution while living the problem really isn’t the solution. A proactive solution like hospitals have in hand needs to be in place. Smart educators like Tim should be given credit for their thoughts, along with a budget, and come up with a permanent solution should a similar situation ever arise again. And, even if it doesn’t, who wouldn’t want a solution where every student in the province has reliable access to the internet.


Being a Skillful Teacher

From the TESL Blog comes a post from Martina Finnegan that includes one of the best thinking moments for me this past while.

“Skillful teaching is the teaching that is contextually informed” (Brookfield, 2015, p. 20). We teach what we assume students should be learning in their particular situations, and sometimes this requires veering away from a syllabus and taking hold of alternate methods to help students learn what is required for their field

In today’s reality, I think of teachers that are now thrust online to continue their teaching.

I’ve been in conversation with a friend in the States that is teaching his Computer Science courses online. The connection to the student is through video conferencing from his living room to goodness knows where. I do know that one of those locations is in China.

One of my superintendents was a big believer in Management by Walking Around. Great read here. He believed that the best teachers are always walking around, looking at student progress and then let the alternate methods that Martina alludes to kick in. Educators know what the end game is and will do whatever is needed to get there.

I would hope that the best of the best meet Martina’s standards of a “Skillful Teacher”. She’s got some great references for additional reading in the post.


Neighbourhood Mending – 19/31 #SOL20

Melanie White SCREAMS

“This is not my neighbourhood!”

Why is she screaming?

She’s looking at a glossy magazine that describes her neighbourhood. The pictures that she sees in the magazine are drastically different from what she sees when she looks out the front window or around her neighbourhood.

It’s difficult to believe that this is happening in Canada in 2020. Judging by the comments to Melanie’s post, she’s not the only one who sees this and want to take action.

Letter writing to the magazine is a good start. Letter writing to those businesses that advertise in the magazine, cc: the magazine and to social media would even be more effective.


Andrea’s 2 Degrees

The Beast is back!

When I read the title, I thought it might be about a Degree in the Arts and a Degree in Education like so many teachers in province have and how could that be a post.

But I was wrong.

It’s a wonderful story about a relationship and professionalism that brings in a running kindergarten student and how grade 5 students ended up being more effective than the vice-principal in her role of authority.

Now, I’ve heard (and watched) 6 degrees of separation. I had to do a bit of research to find out just what was meant by 2 degrees. I hope that this is the context that they use in the post because I used it to understand their message.

There are specific spaces around each of us: 1. private space is the immediate space or circle – you. The next circle or microsystem is: 2. close family, friends, and peers in school, workplace, religious affiliation and neighborhood. The next circle would be the mesosystem: 3. to a lesser degree of closeness, extended family, acquaintances, and peers in school, workplace, religious affiliation and neighborhood. Circles 2. and 3. are the combined social space. Next is the exosystem, public space: 4. community, county, state, nation. The final circle, macrosystem, would represent: 5. the world. In Karinthy’s concept of six degrees of separation, a person would be six steps away from any one person in the world. This is the interconnectedness of dependent-origination. We are all connected. One degree of separation would place you solely in the inner most social circle or microsystem. This would lead you to a very select few within that social space closest to you.

When her direct message was ineffective, she turned to the connections of the 2nd degree and they were indeed able to be effective in stopping the running behaviour.

Then, in true Beast fashion, we’re witness to a discussion between Andrea and Kelly about this and their relationship.

In particular, I’m interested in this concept of a “2 degrees pilot”.


And, again, a wonderful collection of thought from Ontario Edubloggers. Please take time to click through and read the original posts.

Then, follow these people on Twitter.

  • Shelly Vohra – @raspberryberet3
  • Matthew Morris – @callmemrmorris
  • Michelle Fenn – @Toadmummy
  • Tim King – @tk1ng
  • Martina Finnegan – @TESLOntario
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • The Beast – @thebeastedu

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https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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