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This Week in Ontario Edublogs

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Author, Legendary Music Of All Times. (Aug 2, 2017). 
Magical Mystery Tour [Video file].

And, with that, we’re off on a magical tour of some of the great things written this past while by Ontario Edubloggers.


Technically, it’s not a blog yet.  The blogging area is ready to receive posts.  Instead, this sounds like a marvelous project from my two favourite internet-connected Jacs.


The project is outlined at the site, composed of five stages.  It’s going to be interesting to track the growth and I hope that lots gets posted to that blog page.

Top 5 Defining Moments; What has defined my career?!?

The top 5 defining moments meme continues with this post from Joe Archer.  He identifies five of his own along with very well described details.

A couple of moments he identifies:

  • Opening my classroom to partnerships
  • Getting into the Microsoft Educator Community

You’ll have to visit his post to read the rest.

Make sure that you follow the hashtag #5bestEd and read Jonathan’s original post here where he’s collecting links to the posts he finds.

Finding your Tribe

Ann Marie Luce continues her description of her new position in Beijing.  With this post, she describes a number of highs and lows.  One of the lows could be expected when plunked into a new society, new language, new school, new colleagues, and the remembrances of a community back home.  It must seem so far away now.

I realized just how much support I had from so many AMAZING colleagues. I miss the phone calls on the morning commutes or rides home where we discussed and working through thousands of problems. I miss the sharing of ideas and support. I miss our Community of Schools meetings where we worked on professional learning together and shared common challenges and successes. I miss the laughter, sarcasm and opportunity to just be myself 100% of the time. I miss celebrating personal and professional milestones of my staff. I miss my colleagues that pushed my thinking and forced me to grow and learn from the uncomfortable. I miss the leadership of a superintendent where I really and truly felt I could be 100% honest and transparent. In short I miss my tribe.

There’s so much to miss.

As I read the post, I realized that there are those who didn’t have to travel those big distances to miss the types of connections that they once had.  There are teachers who are in new schools, new administrators, and new coaches and they all have their own time curve for building that new tribe.

Setting the Tone for Learning

How many can remember the advice given to new teachers for the new school year?

Don’t smile until at least the second week of school

Peter Cameron takes a run at “old school” versus “new school” for approaches to the new year.

I can totally see his vision of “old school” and I’ll bet that you can too.  It’s how we were indoctrinated at the first of the school year, for so many years.

Peter offers a different technique that he uses for his classroom.  It’s a nice comparison between the old and the new.  The similarity?


Teacher Brand Ambassadors: Where Do We Go From Here?

The New York Times recently ran an article about how some well known names in the teaching business have become figureheads for commercial entities.

That was enough to get Andrew Campbell busy at the keyboard.  A great insight and advice appears near the top of his post.


It’s hard not to disagree with the points in Andrew’s post.  The Times article, of course, reflects on the US situation which is considerably different than Ontario’s.  In Ontario, typically big product decisions are made centrally but you do see edupreneurs (my nomination for worst edtech term, Andrew) who will take it and fly and become fan people for it.

By coincidence, I ran into this article – 50 Of The Best Education Accounts On Twitter.  I felt kind of good recognizing so many of the names on there.  I felt kind of badly when I didn’t associate them with any great educational initiative but with a particular product(s) instead.  Is this what “best” has become?

Checking out a few of the Twitter profiles indicate that many have aligned themselves with a particular product rather than something more important – like teaching.  Unfortunately, I don’t see a rush to change them happening anytime soon.

Andrew goes on to offer three suggestions that people would be wise to consider.

What do you think?  Doable?

Transform your Makerspace & Support Your Team Through QR Code Scanning

I remember a few years ago sitting at edCampQuinte and when it came time to sign up for sessions to lead, I chose to talk about QR Codes.  They were young and new at the time.

But we came to the conclusion that they would be the perfect tool to assist students in self-direction and to relieve teachers with the burden of answering the same question over and over again.

Derek Tangredi goes over the top with the concept.  Read how he uses QR Codes to enhance the experience for students while generating time for himself to act as the facilitator and troubleshooter.  He’s created this video to really explain things.

Author, Derek Tangredi. (Sep 9, 2017). 
How to Turn Slide Decks into QR Codes [Video file].

He’s super pumped.  What better recommendation?

A Simple Prompt with Big Impact

With the new school year, it’s time to consider new things.

Brenda Sherry takes us on a trip to think about shifting.  Who hasn’t talked about it?  Who hasn’t thought about it?  Who hasn’t hoped that their efforts have caused others to shift?

She boils it down to a simple protocol.


Don’t just stop at reading Brenda’s blog post – follow the links she provides to the research.  You’ll be glad you did.

How’s that for a magical mystery tour around the province?  and beyond.  Please take a moment and read the entire posts and enjoy their thoughts.  While you’re at it, make sure that you follow these folks on Twitter.  @jaccalder@jacbalen@archerjoe@turnmeluce@cherandpete@acampbell99@dtangred@brendasherry

If you’re an Ontario blogger and aren’t in my collectionplease consider adding your URL.  There’s a form available at this site for just this purpose.

Every Wednesday morning at 9:15 on voicEd Radio, Stephen Hurley and I talk about some of the great posts that appear from Ontario Edubloggers.  The shows are also archived and you can revisit them here.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Week 1 winds down for most in Ontario schools.   I hope that it’s been a great one for you.  Speaking of great, here are some great posts from the blogs of Ontario Educators.

What Are Your “Why’s?”

If you need to read one post this week, it’s this one from Aviva Dunsiger.  She was inspired by another blog post and it’s worth a read too.

It may well be the missing piece in your classroom design and everything else that you do.  I can’t help but smile when I think of the number of times I asked students “Why did you do that?”  Aviva reminds us that it’s important to ask that question of ourselves.

I was doing some thinking on my car ride into school today. While I love seeing what rooms look like — and am often inspired by what I see — I also love hearing the thinking behind the decisions.

My Top 5 Defining Moments in teaching.

Kudos have to go out to Jonathan So for starting the meme #5bested.  Regular readers will know that I shared mine earlier in this week.  Jonathan is keeping track here.

I’ve read all that I can find and really enjoy the breadth of ideas.

I was pleased to find another one that he hadn’t discovered yet – from Ramona Meharg. Ramona’s post includes some interesting ones.

  • 4 Years of Supply Teaching
  • Twitterpated – Twitterpated?

You’ll have to click through to read all five including finding out what Twitterpated means.

Community Response to Five Ways to Damage a Good School

You may recall my challenge to Paul McGuire to extend his thinking about ways to damage a good school in a blog post from Greg Ashman.

And he did.

He put up a Google Form and asked people for input.

This post from Paul focuses on one of the responses.  This quote is from his blog which is from a quote from someone who had responded.

Build a community & relationships. If you don’t have positive relationships with your students, then nothing you do in class really matters. The same applies to admin. If you don’t take the time to build relationships with your staff, then it will be difficult to get staff buy in for positive changes.

That’s great advice for all.  Particularly in the first few weeks, it’s so easy to get sucked into the black hole that is administrivia.

Andrew Campbell shares one of the ways he does it in his class to Twitter.

Bingo isn’t just for staff meetings.

Test Scores Reflect What We Think About Math

Speaking of Andrew Campbell, check out the case that he builds here.

I really like his story about his sons going for their driving test.  Even back in the day, I followed the same route.  We had sit ‘n git classes but the important part was getting out in the “real world” and driving the streets of our town.

We learned from the experience just as today’s students learn elements of mathematics by exploration and inquiry.  Yet, they’re tested in a 1:1 situation with themselves and the paper test.

Most certainly, those of us who drive did it in the real world.  We didn’t revert to a pen and pencil test to prove we knew how to drive.

The good news is that, since Andrew’s post, there’s news that the Ministry of Education will be doing a rethink of things.  Hopefully, this is part of it.  There are so many groups that would like to see a change.


From the TESL Blog, Michelle Wardman offers eight suggestions for how to reflect on your teaching.

I felt pretty good going through the list.  I had done many of them.  One of the most powerful ones, particularly if you get to teach the same grade or same students again, is the START/STOP/CONTINUE approach.  In all my lessons plans, I always had a reflection area that starts as a big blank spot that encouraged me to fill it with something.

She also talks about forming a Teacher Development Group.  I know that there are often attempts to have a forced PLC event but this is different.  This is driven by you.  It reminds me of the tenants of Peer Coaching which I found to be so powerful for me.

Click through to read all eight.

Is It Possible to Create a Culture of Feedback?

The blogger in me wonders.  After all, there is room for comments and feedback below but very few of you will take the time to give me feedback.

But, Sue Dunlop isn’t talking about blogging here.

She’s talking about feedback in general and the observation that “they won’t do anything anyway”.  I think that there’s a fine line between productive feedback and bitching at times but, if you ask for it, you need to be able to accept both.

She makes an interesting observation that any changes based upon that feedback might not necessarily happen immediately.  I think that’s a real reality in education.  I have to smiled when I think about all the “21st Century School” stuff that I’ve read this week.  We’re going to milk that one as long as we can, I guess.

It seems to me that, in addition to creating the culture of feedback, you need to have a culture of recognition of that feedback.  So, when you adopt an idea, send a note of thanks or appreciation to the person, invite that person to help you make any changes, and announce it in front of an audience and give credit where it’s due.


For this entry, I’d like to return to the TESL Ontario blog and a post from Marcella Jager.

This summer, it was 150 this and 150 that, and we generally enjoyed ourselves.  Although, here in Amherstburg, we had issues in inflating the duck.

There were also a lot of revelations about our history that came to light that didn’t paint a picture of everything being all that rose at times.

The post offers hope for the next 150 years.

Canada’s best years are not behind us, they are before us. There are cracks in our social fabric that a shared double-double cannot seem to heal.

You can’t help but think of a better Canada after reading this post.  What will you do to contribute?

Once again, I hope that you find this collection of Ontario Edublogs inspirational.  I can’t do them justice in my comments; you need to click through and read the richness and wonderful thinking that happened on each and every one of these posts.

If you’re a blogger and aren’t in my collectionplease consider adding your URL.  There’s a form available at this site for just this purpose.

Every Wednesday morning at 9:15 on voicEd Radio, Stephen Hurley and I talk about some of the great posts that appear from Ontario Edubloggers.  The shows are also archived and you can revisit them here.

Source: Edublogs

A Homegrown Girl Who’s Going the Distance- Sarah Lalonde’s P3

A Homegrown Girl Who’s Going the Distance- Sarah Lalonde’s P3

As a teacher, my measure of a great project is when my students are excited for their chosen presentation dates because they are deeply engaged in the task. That same eagerness has come from a lot of my guests on The Personal Playlist Podcast, which originated as a Building Outside the Blocks project for my grade 7 class. I am joyful that this experience has resonated with so many educators. Sarah was among those who were excited to share her P3 (link coming soon).
Sarah Lalonde is a teacher candidate finishing up her degree at the University of Ottawa. She is also a blogger and one of the podcasters on VoiceEd Radio. As the Community Manager for VoicEd , she is in charge of community engagement for this incredible station that is literally changing the way you talk about education in Canada. In her current placement, she is shadowing an English teacher who is also charge of student leadership activities- a role very close to my heart.

Sarah felt that her playlist was truly original. She was correct in saying that she is the first guest in her age group. She is 23, and maybe even the first millennial on the show. Sarah refers to herself as a country bumpkin, which was well-reflected in some of her playlist choices. Her nostalgia song features the Queen of Country Pop because this artist was her role model growing up. She did projects about her and her grandma played her music on the way to swimming lessons. Sarah choreographed a lot of dances to her music with her brother and some neighbours, and she played Rock Band- Country Tracks with this song, too. It even inspired her to get a guitar. Here is Shania Twain’s Any Man of Mine:
When people choose their identity song, they choose something that shows who they are and what they love. This song resonates for Sarah because it also keeps her grounded. “I don’t think there is a better song to really represent who I am…I blare it on the radio in the car…I listen to it when I need to remember who I am and where I come from.” As a person who has moved a lot in her adult life, she has deepened her passion for her hometown. Check out her #HelloMyPLN video. It tells her story so well and helps the viewer get a sense of where she comes from.
The song title for her identity song is also the name of the company that she and her boyfriend started. Their mission is about showcasing where you come from in order to bring it to where you are going. To do that, they aim to provide unique apparel and gear in the latest styles that include baseball shirts and tank tops (see above right). From the county fairs to the gravel road that leads you to three acres of land she lives on, this song reminds her of spending time with her friends, driving down a country road, checking things out and just spending time with one another. Sarah shared, “Being homegrown is a state of mind; a mindset of knowing where you come from and always staying true to your roots.” Here’s Homegrown by the Zac Brown Band:
Sarah felt blessed to be that Disney Family who went yearly to visit the Magic Kingdom. Once she was out of high school, she learned that she could work at the Disney International College Program (ICP) for Canadian students. She worked on the Maharajah Jungle Trek and got to interact with guests by educating them about the animals on the trail. “Walt Disney World changes you,” added Sarah noting the two-finger point and the reference to staff as cast members. “Everything is particular, well designed and well-thought through.”  She chose a Disney song for her motivational and pick-me-up song.
“I had to add some Disney flare to my P3, or else it wouldn’t represent who I am.” Some of the lyrics in this song really speak to her because the song is about believing in yourself and following your dreams.  She pictures herself with students in a school, as that is where she truly believes she belongs. No matter what obstacle she has in front of her or what she’s going through, this song helps to remind her that she can “go the distance”. It is a song that is included in the fireworks presentation at Epcot, and it gives her a spark when she hears it. Here is I Can Go the Distance (not Difference as I wrongly announce on the podcast) from the animated movie Hercules.
Sarah felt that her songs really paint a picture of who she is. “Honestly, I am really happy with the songs that I have chosen,” Sarah concluded and adds, “ and I do not have another song that I think would help anyone paint a picture of who I am as a person.” Sarah has been dreaming about being a teacher and impacting students lives for as long as she can remember.  She has gone the distance, and the end is in sight because she graduates in June. Sarah has all the ingredients to be a great life long learner and educator, and I know that she will make the most of every step of her journeys.

Source: Noa Daniel

Negative Capability and Other Insights- Shane Lawrence’s P3

Negative Capability and Other Insights- Shane Lawrence’s P3

Shane Lawrence has been on the podcast podium for a few years now, and his offering has evolved to become The Ed Podcast, which you can catch on VoicEd Radio and through iTunes.  The BYODcast was Shane’s first podcast, coincidentally inheriting the gear in time to put it to good use. He gathered with colleagues monthly to discussdifferent aspects of the school’s changeover to Bring Your Own Device. Interviewing other educators, plus the check-in that he still does, increased over time to 3 interviews a months and is a “pile of fun,” according to Shane.

Shane sang in a choir for a lot of his life. When he lived in Prince George, British Columbia, he was a soprano in a choir called Bel Canto that was invited to perform all over the world. Had an incredible director that helped to instil a love of music. He then joined a mixed chorus at the University of Alberta, touring once a year. “Music has been there for me,” declared our guest.

Shane’s nostalgic song has sat with him for over 25 years. It reminds him of how music helps to define who he is. Shane is a real fan of the artist whose was first introduced to the him in high school during a rotation with a teach who opened him up to this “big and deep” and indefinable sound. It followed him through a period of life when his existential questions drew him to this transgressive artist who helped him find, “beauty and joy in breaking some of those,” rules and “resonated with me as different and important.” Shane shared that the artist’s music, “carried me through a time in my life that helped me define myself and what I believed in.” While he has changed a lot since that time, he introduced his nostalgic song and his deep appreciation for the role the artist played in this formative period in his life as, “…crisp and sharp and beautiful.” Here is The Grand Wazoo by Frank Zappa.

Shane’s identity song was written in 1948 by the poet and songwriter Eden Ahbez and originally sung by Nat King Cole. The last line of the lyrics is a profound insight: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

Shane selected this version because it paired with his favourite film, Moulin Rouge. This “haunting and beautiful version” of the song is not a literal reflection of his identity. Shane feels that he is an observer encountering the Nature Boy, the title of the song. His perceived purpose on this earth is to “witness beautiful things.” Shane shared, “When I see things that are beautiful, mountains and lakes, and sometimes things that are far more mundane, I feel something resonate.” As he described this song and the meaning of its lyrics, he added, “It doesn’t sound like it was written but like it was found deep within the earth where the ancient gods lie.” This song reverberates for Shane. “…It’s like hitting the right note in music that vibrates a window pain.” One of the aspects of the song that really grabbed him relates to Keats’ notion of negative capability.  “You can be surrounded by the mysteries of life and be content to be surrounded,” and just immerse. There is real beauty in the unknowable. This song really has an other-worldliness quality to it. Here is Nature Boy sung by David Bowie:

As the father of a three and one year old, Shane sometimes needs help waking up after his interrupted sleep, a reality to which most parents can relate. Some good solid noise, like audio coffee, can really help to charge the day. Uniquely, he came to discover this band through gaming. One of their songs was featured in a video game called Bio Shock Infinite. “There are a few songs in existence that I think the more you turn them up, the better they sound…something more is revealed…and you cannot play it loud enough.” Now the top of his playlist and something that really pumps him up, here’s Nico Vega, I Believe (So Get Over Yourself):

Shane and I booked extra time so that he could interview me for The Ed Podcast before I recorded his Personal Playlist Podcast.  We shared a lot of insights, reflections and personal narratives during the recordings. We discussed my leap to consulting and why BOBs are unique and powerful learning tools. You can catch that podcast here.

Shane will be on a new adventure teaching Drama, Film Studies and Computers this year. While he will miss teaching English, the subject can be integrated into the others on his docket. Actually, his playlist connects to each of the three subjects perfectly. Although giving up teaching the subject you love can be very challenging, it is a great catalyst for creativity and employing a growth mindset. I’m sure it will be a great year of learning ahead, for all of us!

@VirtualGiff Live and In-Person

@VirtualGiff Live and In-Person

When Jen Giffen signed us up for a slot on what would become a 15 hour VoicEd-Radiothon, I was nervously excited. I was going to be interviewing @virtualgiff for her P3 in the most non-virtual way possible: intimately situated in her house, face-to-face, and live on the radio.  Although we are live on the weekly #ONedmentorsshow, this was my first go at a live Personal Playlist Podcast. Once the intro music began, however, my nerves faded, and I fully engaged in introducing this accomplished and energetic guest.

Jen Giffen is a Digital Literacy Resource Teacher at the York Region District School Board. She is a Google for Education Certified Innovator, and a Flipgrid Ambassador. She is also a sketchnoter who will be presenting on this important tool at YRDSB’s upcoming QUEST2017 conference. Jen is the co-coordinator of the upcoming EdTechCamp2017 with Kim Pollishuke, where I am among the presenters on October 14, 2017. Jen Giffen, the mother of three boys ages 7 and under, is an EdTech leader and a cheerleader.

Jen found the preparation of her playlist particularly challenging. Her #OneSong, if asked, would be U2’s With or Without You, but choosing her 3 Personal Playlist songs was a bit more difficult . She was at a cottage with a few friends celebrating someone’s milestone birthday and began discussing the song selections for her playlist. Even though a lot of possible choices arose and some good discussion with this celebratory crew ensued, she went with her gut and returned to her 3 initial song choices. While anyone’s playlist can change over time, the #P3 is a snapshot in time enhanced through whatever narrative the individuals chose to share.
When Jen introduced her nostalgic song, she expressed that it is one that surprises her. It comes in rare moments that bring an emotional weight that always really hits her. This song reminds her of her parents and how wonderful they are. She spoke about being the only child. Her joke is that, “My parents stopped at perfection.” The artist wrote this song for the woman who became his wife. He once said,  “Suddenly, I’m hypersensitive to how beautiful everything is. All of these things filled up my senses, and when I said this to myself unbidden images came one after the other. All of the pictures merged and I was left with Annie. That song was the embodiment of the love I felt at that time.” This song fills Jen with love. It’s about her parent’s love and the love she has for her parents and her whole family. She took us all the way back to when she was eight and called this a song that, “Brings out emotion in me like no other.” Here is Annie’s Song by John Denver.
As Jen began telling the story of her identity song, I couldn’t wait to cue it up. It was partially because of the movie soundtrack that it came from and partially because it is such a great tune. It was actually the first song from her wedding for which she almost fired the DJ for questioning her choice for their first dance. “I love the energy of the song, I love the passion…” As a nostalgic song, it’s nice to, “…reminisce about the days of old,” but as a song that reflects who she is, this song shows that Jen likes the familiar and needs time to adapt to change.  “I have really deep roots,” said our guest when talking how this song relates to her life. When a lot is coming at her, she needs a touchstone like this song to feel grounded and get comfortable.  This song, for which I joyfully tweeted the scene from the film Risky Business, is a really energetic song and one that really gets “you out on the floor”. Here’s Old Time Rock n Roll by Bob Seger. Stephen Hurley, our producer (and so much more), was busy dancing while the song played and almost forgot to fade it out.
The third song in the Personal Playlist Podcast framework has a lot of room for interpretation. The category is an anthem or theme song, and it is most often explained as a motivational/inspirational pick-me-up song. This last song in Jen’s P3 comes under all of those definitions. She referred to it as an anthem for anyone working through something or trying to persevere through something. Jen first heard this song when watching The Ellen Show with Calysta Bevier. If you haven’t seen this episode, get a tissue. She associated in with many different kinds of battles such as fighting cancer or living with mental illness. Jen also referred to her sketchnote of her inner critic, which is a reflection of a quiet but intense battle we often fight with ourselves.

She refers to a line from the song and adds, “The wrecking balls inside my brains really speak to me about how hard we are on ourselves.“ We had enough time to play the song in its entirety for all those who needing an anthem for determination. It is song that always builds her up. Here is Fight Song from Rachel Platten.
It was a pleasure interviewing Jen and enjoying her lovely backyard afterward. I look forward to continue learning from her through what she posts on her feed and her great insights on Thursdays nights.

Source: Noa Daniel