Brian Harrison: How Do We Talk To Parents About Math?

Brian Harrison is an Ontario School Leader and veteran blogger.  His blog has been shared widely through SIM (System Implementation and Montoring) in Ontario and it is followed by many educators.

Recently, Brian addressed the challenges of  communicating with parents about our practices around the teaching of mathematics in Ontario.

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One of my favourite lines is, “We can use a lot of terms to describe math, but ‘new’ is not one of them …”.  Brian provides some valuable logic about the meaning of “back to basics”.

Parents exist in a world bombarded by media reports of declining math scores.  Our work as education leaders is in helping parents understand more clearly the importance of the processes we are using to ensure students fully grasp numeracy, rather than memorizing algorithms (as many of the parents were forced to do in school).

Further learning around how we can share our understanding of math instruction can be found on this Ontario Student Achievement Resources site:  Posted on the site is a link to a recorded webinar where Dr. Chris Suurtamm discusses Confronting Myths and Challenges in Mathematics Education.

Be sure to read Brian’s full post here.

We have links to many Ontario School and System Leader blogs on this site.  Join OSSEMOOC to have your blog link added.

David Jaremy: How Do We Interact With The Digital World?

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What are you thinking about these days?  As we wind down 2014, we are following Tom Carroll’s lead and asking this question of our education leaders in Ontario.

OSSEMOOC has included links to educator blogs on this website so that they are easily accessible.

Today we are reading David Jaremy’s blog, where he writes about his first impressions of the book “The Digital Principal” by Janette Hughes and Anne Burke.

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David writes about his thinking around the read-write web and how our ability (and, perhaps, our obligation) to contribute, changes the way we need to interact with our students.

How many of us have taken the time to think about this?

Where do we share our ideas around this shift?

His post reminded me of an example we used in our “30 Days of Getting Connected” Series.  Ira David Socol writes about how change is not new, but in the Web 1.0 days, change was happening at a different level, and was not as apparent to us.  Web 2.0, the read-write web, allows the ability to create and contribute, which results in change that impacts all of us.

For an excellent overview of Web 1.0 -> Web 2.0 -> Web 3.0 and its impact on learning and teaching, refer to the work of Dr. Jackie Gerstein here.

Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution - Non-Commercial - No Derivatives licence by Dr. Jackie Gerstien.
Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution – Non-Commercial – No Derivatives licence by Dr. Jackie Gerstein.

So how does the read-write web change our dynamics as a teacher?

We look forward to reading more of David Jaremy’s thinking and reading on this topic.  In the meantime, continue the conversation by leaving comments on his blog post here.

*David Jaremy is the Principal of Hornepayne Elementary and Secondary School, a JK-12 school in a small, Northern Ontario community!


OSSEMOOC will be taking a break from the regular Tuesday night “open mic” sessions during the month of December.

Throughout the next 3 weeks, we will be emailing, posting and tweeting about suggested good reads, writing prompts, asking questions and encouraging your continued involvement in building & sharing with your PLN.

We are already busy planning an exciting agenda for 2015, and will share details as we are able.


Ten Minutes of Connecting: Day 30 – Oh The Places You’ll Go!

Congratulations!  You have committed time over the past month to become a connected leader.  You have found where the learning is happening. You have found places to connect with other colleagues who value learning in the way that you do.

What lies ahead?

Your thinking about your practice may have shifted significantly over the past month, but relationships remain at the centre of our learning.

Sometimes, as you share your excitement about what you have learned with your colleagues,  you will feel like the voice of the “Lone Wolf”.

An important blog post on the loneliness of the innovator by David Truss.  Click on the image for the full article.
An important blog post on the loneliness of the innovator by David Truss. Click on the image for the full article.

At other times, when you are with your “tribe”, you will feel like you are “preaching to the choir”.  This too, has value.

Sharing the importance of nurturing the early risk-takers who are modelling the learning we want for our students, but Stacey Wallwin. Click on the excerpt  for a link to the full blog post.
Sharing the importance of nurturing the early risk-takers who are modelling the learning we want for our students, but Stacey Wallwin. Click on the excerpt for a link to the full blog post.

As a connected leader, you are taking ownership of your own learning.  Isn’t this exactly what you want for your students?

Shared by Bill Ferriter @plugusin under a Creative Commons Attribution - Non-Commercial License.
Shared by Bill Ferriter @plugusin under a Creative Commons Attribution – Non-Commercial License.

You’ve learned that Twitter is a 24/7 stream of learning for educators.  Random captures of Tweetdeck demonstrate how many ideas are flowing at once.

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Will Richardson shares eight attributes of modern educational leaders here.  Understanding where to find the best and most current ideas about education is the first attribute.

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Watch what happens when connected leaders understand the importance of networking for students:

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Look at the number of comments on this blog!  How powerful is this conversation among teachers and student about mindset and learning?!

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Here is a sample of the kinds of conversations among teachers and students you will see on this class blog.  Take a moment to comment on some of the student thinking.

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As you continue to connect, you will experience magical moments, learning and connecting that grow from your open sharing.  Alan Levine expertly collects these stories.  I think Ms. Balen and Ms. Calder need to contribute to this collection!

 “The power, the strength, the future of the internet as we know it now, depends on this two-way flow. Share openly, and then share your story.”

Alan Levine (@cogdog)

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 Check out some of these fabulous stories of connecting, then be sure to share your story when the magic happens for you.

Congratulations on a successful 30 days of connecting.

Here at OSSEMOOC, we look forward to continuing to learn from you.  Be sure to add your blog to the list through our “Join In” page.

Thanks for your participation and feedback.  We hope you will continue to add resources to our posts through the comments, and that you will continue to spread the word!

We leave you with some inspiring words from Connected Leaders in Ontario – The OSSEMOOC K12 Online Conference Presentation for 2014.



On Twitter:

David Truss (@datruss)

Stacey Wallwin (@wallwins)

Bill Ferriter (@plugusin)

Julie Balen (@jacbalen)

Jaclyn Calder (@jaccalder)

Alan Levine (@cogdog)



#onted, #cpchat, #suptchat


 The Importance of Connected Learning EnvironmentsJackie Gerstein

Ten Minutes of Connecting: Day 29 – Digital Leadership

Congratulations! You have now spent 28 days learning how to be a connected leader.

Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution - Non-Commercial - Share-Alike License by Guilia Forsythe
Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution – Non-Commercial – Share-Alike License by Guilia Forsythe

Throughout this series we have emphasized the critical importance of Digital Leadership.  Today we want to share some further thinking around this topic.  In particular, consider the changing conversations around the concept of Digital Citizenship.

Here are a few opportunities to expand your thinking about the importance of being a networked lead learner.

In 2008,  Ira Socol shared his thinking about why so few educators were connected leaders.  Take a few minutes to read this excerpt, or click on the image to read the full essay.


From "Toolbelt Theory for Everyone" by Ira David Socol, 2008 (click on the image for the link to the blog)
From “Toolbelt Theory for Everyone” by Ira David Socol, 2008 (click on the image for the link to the blog)


Today, we often hear that it isn’t about the tools, it’s about the pedagogy.  What does your experience tell you about this?  Should we be teaching tool use explicitly in schools?  How does this posting challenge your thinking about your leadership?

As leaders in education, we often think about the safety of children in online spaces.  How do we best teach digital citizenship in our schools?  Current thinking about this topic is shifting, as evidenced by the following conversation with Tanya Avrith.

(Tanya’s script from her ISTE Ignite session can be found here:

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 6.48.39 AMGeorge Couros frequently speaks about the importance of establishing our own digital presence, before someone does it for us.

Every one of your students will be Googled before they get their first job.  How are you helping them to create the digital presence that will help them achieve success? (@jcasap)

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Eric Sheninger has written extensively on the importance of Digital Leadership, and how it is the most important factor in creating schools that work for kids.

Dean Shareski shares his thoughts here on how technology can be a catalyst for changing educator mindsets.

What do you think?  Take some time to reflect on your learning over the past month.  How does the concept of “digital leadership” fit with your current professional practice?

What further resources do you have to help others with their learning on this topic?


Further Resources:

How to Become a Digital Leader: Bill Ferriter (@plugusin) on ASCD

7 Pillars of Digital Leadership: Eric Sheniger on TeachThought

Leadership Resources: Stacey Wallwin (@wallwins)

Why do [Our Students] Need Connected Leaders?

Ten Minutes of Connecting: Day 28 – Digital Storytelling for Beginners

Why is Storytelling Important?

If the idea that storytelling is important is a new one for you, we suggest that you take your 10 minutes today, and explore some of the resources below.

The importance of storytelling has been documented on many levels.  Some of us came through a school system that de-emphasized the importance of stories, and valued the  memorization of facts.  We may need to relearn the power of stories, and how they can play a critical role in our work as educators.

Consider the breadth of the idea of storytelling on Wikipedia.

Explore the importance of storytelling in First Nations Pedagogy.


Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution - Non-Commercial - Share-Alike license by Guilia Forsythe.
Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution – Non-Commercial – Share-Alike license by Guilia Forsythe.

“When it comes to inspiring people to embrace some strange new change in behaviour, storytelling isn’t just better than the other tools. It’s the only thing that works.”

Steve Denning

Still not convinced?

Check out some of these TED Talks on the topic of storytelling, or this article in The Guardian on the Importance of Storytelling in the Digital Age.


Why Is It Important to Tell Our Stories?

Taken from a post by Stephen Hurley. Click the image for the link to the post.
Taken from a post by Stephen Hurley. Click the image for the link to the post.

If we don’t tell our stories, someone else will.  We are doing amazing work in education today. Who are we telling about it?

The importance of taking time to tell our stories is captured in this post by Stephen Hurley:  Telling Tales Out of School: The Stories that Emerge from the Work That We Do.  We hope you will take a few minutes to read it and consider your role in spreading the great stories of public education in Ontario.

Taken from a post by @stephen_hurley. Click the image for the link to the original post.
Taken from a post by @stephen_hurley. Click the image for the link to the original post.


Earlier this year, Darren Kuropatwa visited OSSEMOOC to share ideas around Digital Storytelling.  You can access his slides here.

Some of our participants shared their learning in the video below.


How can we begin to use digital storytelling in our classrooms?

This example from Kathy Cassidy demonstrates the power of tools available to help even early primary students share their stories.


From Kathy Cassidy's post on "Blogging in a Primary Classroom with only One iPad" (click on the image for the link)
From Kathy Cassidy’s post on “Blogging in a Primary Classroom with only One iPad” (click on the image for the link)


How can you find out more about Digital Storytelling?  Here is a great starting point: 50+ Web Ways to Tell a Story (by Alan Levine – @cogdog)

What digital storytelling resources or examples do you have to share?

Further Resources:

Digital Storytelling Tools

Digital Storytelling Resources (Dr. Alec Couros – @courosa) -> further resources here as well

Storytelling (David Jakes – @djakes)

Kathy Schrock's Guide to Digital Storytelling (click on the image for the link to the guide)
Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Digital Storytelling (click on the image for the link to the guide)

Ten Minutes of Connecting: Day 27 – more blog considerations

If you have been actively working through the steps in this getting connected in ten minutes a day series, perhaps you are feeling a little overwhelmed about moving into the blogging world.  To recap, the last few posts have covered: start a blog, a beginners guide, now what and blogging as a portfolio – all big steps in the online world.

Take a deep breath.  In this post, we will share a few more tips from our own personal blogging experiences.

Your blog is your online space.   In the beginning, you may feel like your finding your way – finding your online voice so to speak.  It is all about perspective.  You are writing for you:  your voice, your topic choice, your timelines and your style.

Part of being successful as a blog author is setting realistic expectations for yourself.  Seriously consider the:

  • frequency of posting:  schedule vs just when it seems to fit
  • length of post – noting that not everything is thesis
  • the “why” – just sharing, a deeper look at something, an opinion?
  • time to find/obtain related media (links, graphics, videos)
  • style – write the way you like to write – this is you – be yourself
  • accept that your purpose and/or style may shift over time


That! is a blog post

Writing in Snipits – How I blog by Royan Lee

Check out the evolution of Nikki Morden Cormier’s blog.

What are you thinking?

Just Make It Public

Ten Minutes of Connecting: Day 26 – Your Blog as Your Portfolio

This week, the Principal Associations in Ontario (OPC/CPCO/ADFO) are hosting a symposium for Ontario School Leaders on Technology Enabled Teaching and Learning.  The learning is being shared using the hashtag #ontedleaders .

George Couros has been leading some of the learning by meeting with principals virtually, and by examining the Ontario Leadership Framework.

As well, George has been sharing his ideas around open/visible learning and leadership, and sharing our professional portfolios online as our blogs.


Now that you have started to create your own space for sharing learning, consider that your blog can also be your personal portfolio.

How can you set it up?

If you remember in our first blog video, the difference between “posts” and “pages” was discussed.  “Posts” are your regular contributions to your blog – your writing.

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We add new posts by using the “Add New” option on the left side of the dashboard.

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Pages are listed on your blog and they contain information that normally you don’t change as frequently as your posts.

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We add new pages by hovering over “Pages” and choosing “Add New”.

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We name our page “Ontario Leadership Framework”.

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Once published, we can see the page on the public side of our blog.

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It is helpful to use subheadings for the different strands of the framework.  It is simple to set up these pages.

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Once again, we can add a new page.  This time we call it “Setting Directions”.  In the right margin, under parent, we choose our previous page “Ontario Leadership Framework”.  This ensures our new page appears under the main heading.

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Once published, we see “Setting Directions” under the Ontario Leadership Framework Page.

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We can repeat the process for “Building Relationships and Developing People”, and the other strands of the Leadership Framework.

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Clicking the “Setting Directions” heading shows us the page.  As we work on our blog, posts that fit this strand can be added to this page.

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A blog portfolio in progress might look like this:

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Posts are added to the portfolio pages as they are written:

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This is the basic Professional Portfolio set up.  How can you personalize your blog and make this your own?

Please feel free to ask questions and share ideas in the comments.

If you have the opportunity to attend the #ontedLeaders Institute, please remember to share your learning with your colleagues who were not able to be at the event in person.

Ten Minutes of Connecting: Day 25 – You Have a Blog! Now What?

Over the past few days we have spent time setting up a blogging site. Now it’s time to start writing!

There are many reasons why educators use blogs in their professional learning.  Today we will help you with a few prompts to consider how you can begin sharing, and some excellent examples of Ontario leaders who already blog and share.

Some educators begin by sharing the great work happening in their school or district.

TLDSB Superintendent Andrea Gillespie shares her impressions of an event in her board here.  Dr. John Malloy, Director of Education for HWDSB, frequently shares the great work being done in his school board.

Other educators share the formal work being done in their schools and systems.

New UGDSB vice-principal Brenda Sherry shares their work around making the School Improvement Plan a living document in their building. Principal Peter J. Leblanc makes the staffing process at his school transparent on his blog.  New SGDSB Superintendent Nicole Morden-Cormier uses her blog to share all of the work their leadership learning team is doing, and invites others to comment and share in their learning.

Blogging is also a platform for curation.  We have looked at the process of curation earlier in this series.  We strongly suggest that you read this post by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano (@langwitches).

Blogging as a Curation Platform @langwitches
Blogging as a Curation Platform @langwitches

WRDSB Principal James Bond demonstrates how he curates and shares thinking with his writing here.  Deborah McCallum curates resources here.

When we have the privilege of travelling to conferences and other learning events, there is an obligation to share learning with those who were not able to attend.  OCSB Principal Paul McGuire shares his ECOO #BIT14 learning here.

Reflecting on our learning helps to make our thinking visible. YRDSB Principal Brian Harrison reflects on his learning here, and ADSB Principal David Jaremy shares his thinking on student engagement here. HWDSB Superintendent Sue Dunlop share her reflections on leadership here.

Perhaps it takes a challenge to get your first blog post published! OSSEMOOC has set up a few challenges in 2014. To start, we asked educators to simply share one thing they learned by asking the question, “What did you learn today?”. The results are found under “30 Days of Learning in Ontario” on this blog.

Then, we asked educators to pick one thing that caught their eye on social media, and share it (curate) with the world by providing a few sentences on the importance of the learning.  These can be found under “30 Days – Picture and Post” on this blog.  Both examples are great starting points for new bloggers.

This past week, #Peel21st started a Blog Hop with the question, “Learning in the 21st Century – What Does it Mean to You?”.

#Peel21st Blog Hop:
#Peel21st Blog Hop:

Why not take up the challenge and participate?

There are many more examples of Ontario education leaders sharing through blogging.  Follow any of the blog links in the margins of this OSSEMOOC blog.

Once you create your first post, be sure to share it on Twitter so others can read your work.  Share it with OSSEMOOC as well, and we will add you to our exceptional list of Ontario education bloggers.

*Always remember that help is available. Write a comment on this blog if you need assistance.




This week our OSSEMOOC open mic professional learning discussion and sharing forum will examine the topic of BYOD. There are many facets to explore including: shifting practice, IT planning, policies/procedures, digital citizenship and much more.


Please join us Tuesday November 25th (2014) at 8:00 p.m. EST  in our online meeting space by clicking  [here]  any time after 7:30  p.m.

Spread the word,  bring a friend and introduce them to the OSSEMOOC experience.

Your OSSEMOOC team.

Connecting to Learn


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