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

This post appears on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Didn’t we just have a Friday the 13th? But what a beautiful moon! The nice thing about full moons in the winter is that the skies seem so much clearer and the moon so much bigger and crisper.

It’s time to share another week’s worth of reading and posting from around the province from Ontario Edubloggers. As always, some great writing to inspire thinking for you.


It’s a Matter of Relationships

I’m glad to add this blog to my collection. As I said on the voicEd Radio show, this could have been titled “A union stewart and a school principal walk into a coffee shop”. These people would be Judy Redknine and Toby Molouba.

Because they did. It’s an interesting combination given what’s happening in education and, quite honestly, something that should be seen in more places. There are most certainly lots of things to think about in education – when this post was written the current actions were only visible on the horizon.

I love this quote from the blog post.

“When your child walks into the room, does your face light up?” Our belief is that adults, like children, need this same light.  The heart of the matter is it is about our humanity.  Relationships truly matter.

Humanity and decency are things that I would suggest can be taken for granted if left alone. I really appreciate the message of collegiality that comes through in this post. Relationships are number 1. It’s a lesson for all of us. And yes, adults need to see the same light.

I wonder if the faces light up when the two sides enter the room for a round of collective bargaining. Of course they don’t. Like playing poker, you don’t want to show your hand.

But imagine if they did. Would that lead to an earlier conflict resolution?


What do trees have to do with well-being? (Trees Part Two)

A while back, I read Part One of Anne-Marie Kee’s thoughts about trees, in particular as they apply to Lakefield College School.

This is an interesting followup as she reflects on trees and how they grow, survive, and thrive. In particular, she shares some interesting observations about community and deep or not-so-deep roots in the section dealing with myths.

Towards the end, she turns to how it is so similar to today’s teenagers. Trees help each other grow and so do teenagers. In fact, by giving them the opportunity to take on more responsibility in truly meaningful ways, you do help the process. Not surprisingly, she makes the important connection to mental health and well-being.

I know that we all think we do that. Maybe it’s time to take a second look and really focus on the “meaningful”.


Shoulders of giants

Will Gourley really grounded me with his observations about giants. Perhaps because my use with computer technology, a new field in the big scheme of things, I can name and appreciate the giants in the field.

With a career in education, I can think back to the giants who I looked up to professionally. Egotistically, I remember my first days in the classroom just knowing that I was going to be this stand-out educator and change the world all on my own.

And you know what? What they told us at the Faculty was true. You could close your classroom door and nobody notices or cares!

Then, either the first Thursday or the second, there was a big package in my mailbox. It was an updated collective agreement. As a new teacher, I got the entire agreement and then the 1 or 2 page summary of changes from the recent rounds of negotiations. I was blown away to realize that I had received a raise!

That weekend, I sat down and read the agreement from cover to cover. On Monday morning, I sat down with our OSSTF rep and had a bunch of questions. I recall many being “what happened before this was in the agreement”. It was then that I got a true appreciation for the work that had gone into things over the years.

The value of being an OSSTF member continued to grow and impress me over the years. I served as our school PD rep and CBC rep for a few years and every step led to an increasing appreciation for the work that was done. When OSSTF started to provide quality professional learning, I was over the top.

I know that there are tough times during negotiations but just thinking about where you are now and how you get there is important. In a few years, those leading now will be the shoulders that others are standing on.


Hour of Code Is Coming…

Of course, I had to share this post from Arianna Lambert. Computer Science Education Week is near and dear to my heart and the Hour of Code may be the most visible thing to most. I wrote a bit this week about things that can be done with the micro:bit..

I deliberately moved her post to this week, marking the end of the Hour of Code. Why?

An hour of anything doesn’t make a significant difference. The Hour of Code should never be considered a check box to be marked done. It should be the inspiration and insight that lets you see where coding fits into the big scheme of things. It is modern. It is important. It is intimidating.

If you’ve ever taken a computer science course, you know that seldom do you get things right the first time. But every failure leads to an insight that you have for the next problem that you tackle. Student and teacher can truly become co-learners here. Why not take advantage of it?

Included in Arianna’s post is a presentation that she uses and a very nice collection of links that you can’t possibly get through in an hour. And, I would suggest that’s the point.

I know what I’ve been doing all week and plan to continue into the weekend.


My Look At The Holidays: What Are Your Stories?

I cringed when I read the title of Aviva Dunsiger’s post. After all, she had kind of dissed my post about Advent calendars.

This post was different though.

There are lots of pictures she shares about classroom activities so there is a holiday thing happening in her classroom. Check out the menorah made from water bottles.

She shifts gears a bit and tells a story of her youth. She grew up Jewish and then a second marriage gave her the Christmas experience. It’s very open and a nice sharing of her experiences. It was a side of Aviva that I’d never seen before. I appreciated it.

You’ll smile at the story of her grandmother. We all have/had a wee granny in our lives, haven’t we?


The podcast version of our live TWIOE show featuring these posts is available here.

Bonus Posts

Easy Money

I hope that Tim King and I are still friends after my comments on his post. It’s not that it’s a bad post. It’s actually very factual and outlines for any that read it teacher salaries, qualifications, benefits, etc. They’re done in Tim’s context with Upper Grand and that’s OK. With the way things are done now in the province, it’s probably pretty standard. There’s enough statistics and insight there to choke a horse. (sorry, but I grew up in a rural community)

What bothers me is that teachers somehow have to defend themselves for all that has been achieved through collective bargaining. Why can’t it just be said?

Damnit, I’m a teacher! This is what I’ve chosen to be in life; I worked hard to get here; my aspiration is to make the world better by educating those in my charge. Period. Nothing more needs to be said.

What other profession has to defend its existence every time a contract comes up for renewal? And teachers are such easy targets. We’ve all had that one teacher that we didn’t like; some people like to project that across the entire profession.

Part of Tim’s inspiration for the posts comes from the venom of “conservative-leaning reporters”. I think that may be a bit of a concession. The venom, from what I see, comes from opinion piece writers. Unlike reporters that do research, opinion pieces are based on supporting a particular viewpoint.

But, let’s go with reporter. According to Glassdoor, the average base pay in Canada is $59,000/year. That would put them about the fifth year of Category 2 in Tim’s board. For that money, they write a missive a number of times a week for their employer, attach perhaps a stock image and call it an article. The point is to feed a particular message. A truly investigative reporting would put them in a classroom for a week to really get a sense of the value educators give for their compensation. But you’d never see that.

While I know that these messages really upset educators, they should always be taken in context and understood for what they really are.

BTW, it’s not lost on me that these reporters make about $59,000 a year more than this humble blog author. I don’t even take weekends off. Who is the dummy here?


The 500 – #452 – John Prine – Debut

This is a cool concept from Marc Hodgkinson. He says

I was inspired by a podcast called The 500 hosted by Los Angeles-based comedian Josh Adam Meyers. His goal, and mine, is to explore Rolling Stone’s 2012 edition of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

What an ambitious project.

What stood out to me from this post was this new (to me, anyway) musician. I read Marc’s post and then headed over to YouTube for more. Wow, when Robert Plant names a favourite song of yours …


I hope that you can find the time to click through and read the original posts. There’s some really wonderful reading to be done here.

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

  • @redknine
  • @tmolouba
  • @AMKeeLCS
  • @WillGourley
  • @MsALambert
  • @avivaloca
  • @tk1ng
  • @Mr_H_Teacher

This post comes from:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Can you believe that it’s August already? I could swear that I saw my breath while walking the dog this morning. That’s not right either.

I’m also trying out a new resolution that I used to expouse all the time but don’t do it enough myself until I fell into the trap last week – save early, save often.

What is right are the great thoughts coming from the blogs of Ontario Edubloggers.

Read on…


Final Thoughts

I just found out about this blog from Shyama Sunder. It’s a wrap up summary and reflection of her time in EDU 498, a course taken a while ago at a Faculty of Education. Unless I missed it, the actual name of the Faculty didn’t appear anywhere but that’s OK.

The content is a summary of four modules taken. There is a nice summary of each of the modules and the enthusiasm she has comes through loudly and clearly.

Readers of this blog know that I’m not a fan of the SAMR model but it was included as content. If it had any value, I would see if as helpful for experienced teachers trying to embrace technology. I don’t see the wisdom of talking about it to teachers learning how to teach. Why not just teach how to do it properly to begin with? What value is there in demonstrating less than exemplary lessons?

In the post, Shyama makes reference to a book that everyone needs to read “Never Send a Human to Do a Machine’s Job” by Yong Zhao, Goaming Zhang, Jing Lei, and Wei Qiu. That’s a book that should be in every school library and would make for an awesome and progressive book talk.

This blog is referenced on her Twitter profile and there’s no forwarding address. It would be interesting to see her pick up blogging in her professional life.


BOOKMARKS ON TWITTER

Jamey Byers wrote this post so that others wouldn’t have to!

I remember being at a conference once – I think it was in Denver – and Robert Martellacci came up to me and asked if I knew that one of the prominent speakers had liked a link from an adult film star showing a picture of herself. I hadn’t noticed; I’m not in the habit of checking out what people have saved as liked. Maybe I should?

Actually, maybe I should check what I’ve got in my likes! Phew. Other than some egotistic stuff, I think I’m good. (I’m also snooty – go back to the very first one!)

Jamey points out that there’s a new, more private feature available to us on Twitter.

With the addition of the bookmarks function in Twitter you now have the ability to not only like a tweet, but to save it to your private list of bookmarks that are strictly just for your eyes only.

I wonder how many people are using the feature. I’m certainly not. Maybe I should.


The Playful Approach to Math

Matthew Oldridge is now playing in the big leagues with this post on Edutopia. I remember when he was a guy I interviewed for this blog.

He brings his obvious love and passion for Mathematics to this new forum and I hope that people are inspired by his wisdom. Comments are not allowed so there’s no traditional way of knowing.

Truer words were never spoken than these…

The amount of play in “serious” academic topics like mathematics is inversely proportional, it seems, to the age of students, but this does not have to be the case. A playful pedagogy of mathematics can be codified and made real, rigorous, and authentic.

I’ve studied a lot of mathematics over the years and certainly those teachers/professors that I remember best love mathematics; it came across that way, and their playful approach made learning fun and worthwhile.

Can you think of a better testament to give an educator?


My device. My terms. 3 strategies for finding balance.

Jennifer Casa-Todd is one of those people that I’ve seldom met in real life and yet I feel like I know so much about her. She was another person I had the opportunity to interview. I also had the opportunity to help with her book Social LEADia. This should be on bookshelves everywhere.

I enjoy her writing and most of her posts come across as a personal message to me. Such in the power of her writing.

I struggle with the notion of “balance”. The current context is that it involves being connected and not doing other things – like reading a book. I’m always leary of people who make such claims. Isn’t it just exchanging one form of engagement for another? And, hasn’t social media engagement earned its way into our lives?

I like Jennifer’s reasoned approach…

Social media is here to stay and is a part of the fabric of business, politics, and education. Instead of a fast, I suggest the following strategies:

You’ll have to read her post to see if the strategies make sense to you!


When friendship lasts

without warning or explanation, they started talking and, just like that, resumed their friendship from three years ago when they were six. Hours later, after the park, the corner store, the house; after basketball and jungle gyms and ice cream; after talking and laughing and wrestling, they parted reluctantly, already asking when they could see each other again.

Here’s a quote from Amanda Potts’ recent post.

I’ll bet that you could drop that sentence into any conversation or writing that you might have and provide your own characters.

It might be:

  • meeting up at an annual conference
  • a class reunion from your old high school
  • reuniting with a staff after a summer vacation

and the list goes on. Friendship is such an tangible and yet intangible concept. This post describes a pair of friendships that easily fall into the above.

Those on Facebook will know that a friend to many will be returning to Canada after a couple of years overseas. I’ll bet we all will reunite in this fashion at the Bring IT, Together Conference.


The #UWinToolParade: Open Pedagogy as #OER

In the beginning, there were shiny things. People flocked to shiny things and made a place in the classroom whether they were good or not. I’m looking at you – Clickers.

As shiny things kept on invading classrooms, the good thinkers got us thinking that maybe we should be looking beyond these things into exactly how they are used, are they effective, are they worth the cost, etc.

We never looked back. Well, at ISTE there are still 30 tools in 30 minutes sessions. For the most part, we never looked back.

So, now comes Bonnie Stewart and

I have a new project I’m really excited about. Even if it kinda goes against just about EVERYTHING I’ve said about tech in education over the past, uh, decade.

I’ve read this post at least a dozen times and there are so many out of post links that will take you to rabbit holes that didn’t know they were hosting rabbits!

The proposed results?

The fact that it’s 2019 is loud and clear with the inclusion of “data surveillance”.

This looks incredibly interesting and will use social media for good for the description and dissemination of content. Read the post and get ready to follow. And, Bonnie is looking for some pilot locations if you’re interested.


Reflections from the Tech Guy

This TWIOE post seems to have been focused on people I’ve interviewed! This time, it’s David Carruthers.

As we’ve noticed recently, David is going to be doing some magic as he returns to the classroom after having been the “Tech Guy” at the board office for a while.

He sets the standard with his bottom line.

Bottom line, if being labelled a “tech guy” takes these reflections into consideration, I’m extremely proud of this label. I don’t see the technology in front of students as just a bunch of devices. This doesn’t excite me. Instead, I see tremendous potential.

Some words of advice here – you’ll always be known as the “Tech Guy” so wear it. There are worse things to be known for. You’ve built relationships throughout your district so don’t be surprised when you get some panic emails for help. I still get them. The most enjoyable are about report cards which have had many incarnations since I last formally supported them. The really cool thing happens when these relationships develop your learning because someone wants to share something new with you.

On a political note, things are likely to be difficult for a while as cutbacks affect districts throughout the province. I hope that school districts are wise enough to continue to put insightful “Tech Guys” in areas of support centrally. We know that anyone can click a mouse or use a keyboard these days. True progress comes when you have people like David that see the connection and the potential because they bring a strong background in teaching to such a support position.


As always, there’s a powerful collection of thoughts from these wonderful Ontario Edubloggers. Make sure you’re following them on Twitter.

  • @ssunderaswara
  • @mrJameyByers
  • @matthewoldridge
  • @jcasatodd
  • @Ahpotts
  • @bonstewart
  • @dcarruthersedu

This post originated on

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s another Friday and a chance to take a look at some of the recent blogging entries from Ontario Edubloggers.


Exploring By The Seat of Your Pants

There are some amazing things that can happen when you share the best of ideas and opportunities. Brenda Sherry does this in this post.

She’s been well versed in the Exploring by the Seat of your Pants project in a number of professional learning events that she’s been a part of. Recently, she actually got to bring the power of connections to a classroom in her own school.

Junior students got to participate in an interaction with a Canadian marine biologist. Along with students from many other diverse places.

When you think about the traditional guest speaker, they drop in and talk and leave. The power in this model is that it’s recorded and shared via YouTube. In this way, you can revisit the event and also use it in other years. Heck, since it’s publically available, you’re not just limited to the one that your class used.

It sounds like a wonderful learning experience happened. The big takeaway for you, reader, is how to get involved in your own classroom by bringing an expert into there. Details are included in Brenda’s post.


The Gender Gap in Technology

You can’t argue with statistics. In this post on the Heart and Art blog, Michelle Fenn sets the stage.

According to a recent report* by ICTC (the Information and Technology Information Council) Canadian women represent about 50% of the overall workforce but represent only 25% of the technology industry workforce. 

We’ve known this forever, it seems, and yet the inequities still exist. Michelle offers some good suggestions to help change things in your own school.

I think it needs to go further though. If we know that this is a problem then there should be an educational way to fix it. But, until it becomes a compulsory part of the curriculum, we’re left with good people trying their best. That pales in comparison to what can happen if it’s done systemically and supported well with a common set of tools and pedagogy.

In addition to the suggestions in the post, check out the NCWIT website for updates on their activities and for free resources.

Until the situation is formally recognized though, students will still be subjected to hit and miss approaches and cutesy little standalone professional learning activities.


Privilege Masquerading as Superiority

A secondary school teacher who is doing something about this is Tim King. This post details his efforts and observations as he takes an all-female team to the Cybertitan competition.

Tim weaves an interesting story involving both observation and action.

Some of these observations are disturbing.

– where are all the girls?

– A number of people (oddly all male)  grumbled about the all-female wildcard spot

– taking an all-female crew to this event had me constantly seeing micro-aggressions I might have otherwise missed

– we were only there because we’re a girl’s team

– as she reached for the pen a boy from another team stepped in front of her like she wasn’t there

And there’s more. You need to set aside a significant amount of time to read this post where even creating the learning environment was not supported by the school district and the students had to build their own computers.


Just Stop Using “You Guys”

My apologies, in advance, to Sue Dunlop. When I saw the title of this post, I thought it read “Youse guys” and that it was going to be a fun little post about literacy.

Instead, it’s about the expression that is used to refer to a group of people.

yes, “guys’ is a male term, not a neutral one

From the post, it’s clear that Sue has either been in a group that was addressed this way or she saw it being used in that way. Either way, it inspired her to write about it.

She offers some alternatives to use in the post.

Most importantly, it’s a reminder that our choice of words is important. It serves as a reminder to me of the importance of an objective peer coach.

This applies to writing as well. I hope that I don’t use expressions that would offend; I would hope that readers feel comfortable enough to let me know when I do; and I would hope that I would take that as an opportunity to avoid doing it again.


Dear Jordan…

One of the powerful things about blogging is that, at least for now, your thoughts will be there forever. (or until you delete it or the service goes away or … well, you get my meaning)

One of the things that Patt Olivieri will have a chance to do with her son is share this post when he’s old enough to fully appreciate it.

In education, we know all about assessment, evaluation, and data points. Our system and our jobs thrive on it. It’s one of the things that separate education workers from other workers. It’s scientific, artistic, and humanist all at the same time.

It’s not as powerful as a mother’s love for her child.

You see, my love, there is no test for all of this, no grade, no level that can ever capture the everyday, ordinary stuff that accumulates to the only stuff that can ever be measured in immeasurable ways.

Wow.

If you’re a parent, you’ll be moved by this post.


When Political Penny-Pinchers Pilfer Your PD

Alanna King didn’t post this to her personal blog (at least not yet) so I kind of stumbled onto it on the Canadian School Libraries site.

It was great to see a former colleague quoted in Alanna’s post. A bit of trivia – her office had a window, mine didn’t.

There are two major topics that Alanna addresses in this post.

  • Why should teacher-librarians self-direct their professional development?
  • How should teacher-librarians find sources of professional development?

It was good to see that the Bring IT, Together Conference and #ECOOcamp made her list. It goes much further than that and you’ll find yourself tired when you read about Alanna’s endeavours and recognized that they’re all tacked on top of her day job, including writing this post.

There was another area that I thought she could have addressed more completely and, perhaps it’s in a future post, but in addition to her involvement as a participant in things, she is also a highly sought after presenter.

If you’ve ever been a presenter yourself, and what teacher hasn’t in some form, you know that the research and preparation that goes into that can be some of the best professional learning that you’ll ever do. Unlike the professional that repeats the same session over and over again, changing your topics and focus regularly keeps you from going stale.


A MODEST SOTL PLAN: WORKING WITH LITERARY PASSAGES

Now, here’s something completely different from James Skidmore. It falls from a reflection on student abilities from a course that he just taught. He notes that they’re good readers but …

What they can’t do, however, or at least not do very well, is identify passages or quotations from the novel that can be used as the cornerstone for a commentary on the larger text, and then build a commentary based on that passage.

I’d never really thought about this. Now that I have, I would like to think that that is part of what I’m trying to do with these regular Friday posts. I guess it’s a bit of a confession that I try to apply this technique to blog posts which are, by design, short and typically focus on one thing. How would I make out in a larger text? I’ve never thought about it and I wonder.

James has done some research and finds that there isn’t much that has been done already. What to do? He’s going to make it a project for eCampusOntario Extend mOOC . You can read about it and there’s a link to a collaborative document in his post.

I wonder if there are any other teachers of Language that would be interested.


And that’s a wrap.

Like always, some great thinking from Ontario Educators. Please take the time to honour their efforts by clicking through and reading the original.

Then, follow them on Twitter.

This post originally appeared on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


From the blogs of some of Ontario’s Edubloggers, check out some of the latest. And, by the way, if you are in Ontario an are an educational blogger, there’s a form there so that you join this amazing collection.


Another One Bites the Dust?

From Jennifer Aston, a story that occurs too often with educational software/web resources.

She put considerable time and energy into learning a particular software product, teaching her students how to use it effectively, shared the resource with a parent community that she wants to engage with, and then it’s gone.

When I saw the title, I thought it might be a lament about the passing of Google + but no. In this case, it was a piece of software that she and staff members had devoted time to learning to create and share student portfolios.

You can read her entire experience and see the software titles that are involved in the post.

Such a situation has happened to me more than I would like. It’s part of life for technology users, it seems. I wonder if it’s more pronounced in education. A first response is typically like one that Jennifer includes in this post. In education, moments are precious and those lost during a change in software can be painful. Knowing Jennifer, I suspect that she’ll fall back a bit and then pick up her game with the new software.

It’s still frustrating though. As it would happen, Anthony Carabache had shared a post he had written a while ago that applies … “Embrace the Beta“.


Roll Out The Red Carpet

This was an interesting approach from Heidi Solway. Normally, I visit a blog and start reading. Not so in this case. Before I got to the content, there was a disclaimer.


SPECIAL NOTE: This blog post is unique from all other posts.  I am writing it for my Teaching English Language Learners – Part 1 additional qualification course. The assignment is to, create a mock blog post entry that supports educators with creating a classroom environment that welcomes and supports newcomer ELLs. 

I guess the point was to let us know that it wasn’t part of her job or her regular blogging routine.

But, stepping away from that, it’s a fabulous post that is worthy of note, not only to ELL classrooms but to all classrooms. There are tips and suggestions for welcoming new students, starting from the beginning, setting the classroom environment, designing appropriate activities, and more.

Personally, I think that it’s a great post worth sharing despite the disclaimer. There’s nothing there that I don’t think any teacher wouldn’t want to embrace. Faculty of Education students might take particular note.

Doesn’t everyone expect a “Red Carpet” treatment when they go somewhere new? It lets you jump right in. I’ll challenge Heidi right now to roll out the red carpet at EdCampLondon this weekend.

The only thing that was missing from her thoughts was how to post political action posters…


For Mrs. Barkman

“Where were you when … happened?”

I think that we all have memories like that. Such was the case for Amanda Potts who shared a memory of her teacher during the Space Shuttle explosion. For her,

The space shuttle exploded sometime between the end of Algebra 1 and the beginning of English.

Two of my own memories came back as a result of Amanda’s post.

  • I was in the living room at our Minister’s house when news came across the television about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King
  • I was setting up for a workshop in a computer lab in Essex when my support person called and told me to turn on the television and the news because of the airplanes flying into the World Trade Centre

While I still remember these vividly, I don’t think about them daily. It’s only when prompted.

For Amanda, her prompt came from the Notre Dame Cathedral fire. Click through to read her thoughts. It’s a very powerful post.

It will get you thinking. That’s gold for bloggers like Amanda.


No Wifi: Pretend it’s 1993

Huh?

WiFi is ubiquitous, isn’t it? In fact, I know people that buy smartphones without a data plan because it’s everywhere they want to be and they can live without being connected in others. Like driving a car, for example.

Now, Jennifer Casa-Todd is one of the more connected educators that I know – except apparently at her dinner table. (Mental note in case I’m ever invited to dine with her)

Her story, in this case, was about springing herself from self-imposed isolation while doing some research and wanting to go somewhere where there were people and she could also get connected.

She ran into a sign that had a message she wasn’t comfortable with.

Apparently not the actual sign but close enough to make her point.

So, the question becomes:

  • is the sign condescending?
  • is the sign humour?
  • is the sign there to stop people from ordering and then complaining that there was no WiFi?

I don’t suppose it’s one of the world’s greatest questions but Jennifer answered with her feet and went somewhere where her needs could be addressed.

If I was the owner of the place, I’d put a piece of chalk out and let people express their opinions about the policy.

Wait – that’s so 1993 – today we rate service on Facebook or Yelp.


EdTechTeam Ontario Summit 2019

Zélia Capitão-Tavares describes herself as:

Artist | Proud Mom | M.Ed. | TDSB Hybrid Teacher – Digital Lead Learner | Passionate about Digital Literacy | Google Educator & Innovator #TOR16

So, what does she do to fill her weekends?

For one, she goes to the Ontario Summit and apparently enjoyed the learning. She offers a description of the messages from the keynote speakers, the CSFirst Sessions she was involved with and an acknowledgement of the EdTechTeam that lead the event.

All this, plus she was a Spotlight Speaker too! It’s always nice to be recognized for accomplishments and abilities as a leader so kudos to her for reaching that level.

She also mentions something in the post that often goes unaddressed by conference goers. Definitely, during the event, you’re hit over the head with the message of sharing your learning with others via Social Media. I suppose there’s the selfish purpose of the organizers to be “trending” but often that’s about it.

Zélia mentions that, when she had a chance to recharge, that she went back to take a look at the learning and sharing that happened. That’s something we all can do. The sharing on Twitter happened here.


The Courage to Teach

Thanks, Deborah Weston, for alerting me to your latest post on the ETFO Heart and Art Blog.

This is another post that brought back memories for me.

I had no problems accepting the job offer for my first teaching position. After all, it was the only one on the table and I had no other alternative if I wanted a job. I walked into my classes on that first day knowing I was going to be the best thing that ever happened to those students. I knew stuff, a lot of stuff, and my job was to teach them a bit of what I knew.

That was Day 1. Everything went downhill from there.

I think that the biggest thing I learned was that teaching was not about me. It was about everything else that circled around me. Students, colleagues, curriculum, Ministry directives, politics, Federation involvement, coaching, … I could go on but, if you’re a teacher, you know all this.

It also was sobering when one of the people I attended the Faculty of Education tried to organize a reunion five years after we graduated. Some of us were teachers, some had become teachers and left, and some never got into the profession.

It was the ones who had become teachers and left that was the most powerful to me personally. I think that Deborah sums it up nicely in her section “Why do teachers lost heart?

It’s an important message to reflect on as things are anything but idyllic in Ontario Education these days.


Keep It Simple. (thanks, Rachel)

There were two things about this post from Colleen Rose that challenged me.

  • there are a few pictures in the post that don’t come through and I’m guessing that it’s because I’m not friends with the original poster. I was able to visualize because of Colleen’s comments
  • Colleen is a dear friend and such a talent. I have half of one of her painting here in my office. Another friend has the other half.

She received advice advice about using her gifts

My friend Liz (a retired teacher who is adventuring and teaching in China) spoke to me about using our gifts, and that there is a reason why they’ve been given to us.  It’s true — when I create, and especially when I paint, I feel that I am living life to its fullest.

This is such a powerful message, not only to Colleen, but to us all. What is your gift? Are you using it? If not, why not?


Please take a few moments to read these inspirational blog posts in their entirety. You’ll be glad that you did.

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

This post originally appeared on:

https://dougpete.wordpress.com

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