Category Archives: 30 Days of Learning in Ontario

Day 4 of Connected Learning

If you are just joining us today, please refer to this post where we share what we are up to!

Never before has there been such an abundance of information to contribute to our learning.  At the same time, there is no doubt that our collective plates are brimming over with things to do.  As a positive, we challenge ourselves  to think differently and explore ways to learn on the go.


I thought I would share a couple of ideas that have improved my mobile learning.  Part of my practice is to capture information using Notability on my iPad.  This is a powerful app that allows me to write, record, and insert images in documents that I can refer to at any point in time.  One of the things I like to do is re-listen to my recordings in the car.  You can apply this idea to other mediums too, such as  a  livescribe pen.  

Enjoy Day 4:  Listen While You Work.   We look forward to hearing about your learning on the go ideas too.

Oh yes.  If you know a colleague that might like to participate in the 30 days of connected program,  give them a nudge! 




Day 3 of Connected Learning!

If you are just joining us today, please refer to this post where we share what we are up to!

We are working together to push and nudge each other to become connected leaders before the end of 2015.

We encourage you – we “nudge” you – to start today!

Today we are beginning to think about what we can learn professionally in online environments (access the learning here).

Please take a moment to also consider what professional learning is meant to be.

Ontario College of Teachers Standards of Practice
Ontario College of Teachers Standards of Practice

We begin to share the vast amount of learning available online.

We ask you to contribute your favourite sites online for professional learning so that we might share that back with others.

Learning online can start out as a one-way experience, but over the next 27 days, we will teach you how to be participatory in the online learning culture, so that it will be a much richer professional experience for you.

Congratulations on continuing your learning today.  

We look forward to continuing to learn with you.

Day 3: What Can You Learn Online?


Considering PBL

Today’s post compliments some of our related posts on Project Based Learning (PBL).


I really like the reference to PBL as an element in eLearning,  and arguably blended learning by extension.  The video referenced in this tweet,  may be of interest to you as you reflect on the 13/14 school year, and look towards Sept. 2014.

Today’s Picture and Post shared by Mark W. Carbone.

30 Days of Learning in Ontario: What Did We Learn Today?

As the 30 Days of Learning in Ontario OSSEMOOC project comes to a close, we want to thank, and congratulate, all of the educators who took the opportunity to share their learning.  For some, it was their very first time posting their thinking in the blog format.  We thank you for taking the time to let others learn from you.  We hope that you will continue to share your learning and connect with others doing the same.

Thank you as well to everyone who took the time to comment on the blog.  You shared your response and your feedback, and kept the thinking and conversations going.

Special thanks to Deb McCallum for creating a flipboard magazine with the content here:

One of our goals in OSSEMOOC is to have people connect and then create, to go off and learn and share, to sustain those connections and that learning.  We were excited to see Deborah McCallum’s efforts to collate the 30 Days of Learning in a new format.


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Collaborative blogs give ownership to a group rather than an individual.  As co-owners, we all anticipate the next learning.  We are motivated to comment and continue the conversation as we are invested in this community of learners.  Collaborative blogs encourage new thinking, invite new participants, expand our world and our learning.  They give us a focus for reading and sharing.

We learn by watching others.  We teach by modelling the practices we value.  Collaborative blogging allows us to model the action of making thinking visible.

We all have a story to tell, and we learn from each other. Together we are stronger and wiser. Connected learning takes many forms: observing, reading, asking, reflecting, writing, speaking, audio, video and collaborating. Connected learning and leading is a participatory culture. It takes time, time to jump in, time to create new routines and time to build comfort. Courage is needed to put yourself “out there” and find your voice. It is worth the risk to gain insight, broader perspectives and recognize that “the smartest person in the room is the room”.

In our technology enabled learning environments, connected students need connected teachers and leaders. As educators, I believe each of us owns nurturing those around us and role modelling. As pointed out in one of the blog posts, value encouragement and supporting each other with “just right” feedback is important for adult learners too.

Each of the 30 days of learning bloggers has taken the leap of faith, put themselves “out there” to share their reflections and ideas. Congratulations to all for openly participating in the collaborative learning process.

We often wonder why it is so hard to change thinking in education, to bring people into the world of connected learning.  We learned from Tim’s comment that perhaps focusing on the changing world, while validating the work that has been done, is a key component of making this change happen.

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This comment on Stacey Wallwin’s blog helped to reinforce the understanding that what you do has impact that you cannot always see.  Comments like this are the sustenance we all need to keep doing our work to Change the World #CTW

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It’s hard to hit publish.  But opportunity can be fleeting.  Don’t be afraid to share.

Be more dog and grab the frisbee when it comes your way.  Carpe diem!

Mark Carbone and Donna Fry

OSAPAC Co-Leads for #OSSEMOOC.  

Change The World #CTW 


30 Days of Learning in Ontario:

The Lead Learners Who Modelled the Importance of Sharing Learning and Thinking

Our model pre-April blogger: Rodd Lucier @thecleversheep

1 Mark Carbone @markwcarbone

2 Cathy Beach @beachcat11

3 Brandon Grasley @bgrasley

4 Aviva Dusinger @avivaloca

5 Heather Theijsmeir @HTheijsmeijer

6 Jonathan So @mrsoclassroom

7 Louise Robitaille @robitaille2011

8 Julie Balen @jacbalen

9 Jac Calder @jaccalder

10 Scott Monahan @monahan_scott

11 Emily Fitzpatrick@ugdsb_missfitz

12 Deborah McCallum @bigideasinedu

13 Paul McGuire @mcguirp

14 Bea Meglio @megliomedia

15 Lindy Henderson @hendylou

16 Andy Forgrave @aforgrave

17 Brandon Grasley @bgrasley

18 Donna Fry @fryed

19 Mrs. Lewis @mrslewistweets

20 Heather Touzin @heathertouzin

21 Mark Carbone @markwcarbone

22 Daniel Pinizzotto @mrpinizzotto

23 Brenda Sherry @brendasherry

24 Michelle Parrish @mproom31

25 Kellyann Power @kellypower

26 Heidi Siwak @heidisiwak

27 Doug Peterson @dougpete

28 Rita Givlin @ritagivlin

29 Stacey Wallwin @wallwins

30 Denise Buttenaar @butden

Day 30: Taking Chances

On our last day of 30 Days of Learning, we welcome new blogger, Denise Buttenaar.

When OSSEMOOC started the month of April with 30 Days of Learning in Ontario asking us to share what we had learned that day I had many ideas running through my head about what I could share. I could tell you face-to-face exactly what they were and what affect they had on me, however, I could not write about them. We are always challenging our students to reflect and yet the only reflection I had was the person staring back at me in the mirror too afraid to open up to her peers.

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I have been an educator for over 30 years starting when the Formative Years, Education in the Primary and Junior Divisions (1975) was the first year teacher’s bible. While there have been many changes in paradigms from teacher centered learning to multidirectional teaching the child has always been the center of focus, aside from the fairly short lived objective-based model. Today we see a shift from what a child will learn to how a child will learn. 21st Century skills, especially those of collaboration are helping drive student centred learning.

One day this week I had the pleasure of instructing two classes on how to use the Provincial virtual learning environment. One was a grade 2/3 class the other a grade 12 class. I learned a few things that day:

1. When technology is involved students want to do not watch.
2. Supply the students with the bare essentials and let them run with it.
3. It is hard to try something new when you are used to doing things a specific way.

Number three is the reason I am writing. I cannot expect the students and teachers to listen to me when I tell them to take a chance and try something new if I am not willing to do so myself.

So here it is. Not the next great novel, just a few thoughts from a life-long learner.

Denise Buttenaar is an education leader and eLearning Contact in Bruce-Grey Catholic DSB in Ontario.

Follow Denise on Twitter: @butden

Photo credits:
Replace Fear: *Zephyrance – don’t wake me up. via Compfight cc

Day 29: The Value in Preaching to the Choir

Written and shared by Stacey Wallwin.

To answer the #OSSEMOOC  30 Days of Learning Challenge, “What have I learned?”…..

I have learned the new and much more powerful meaning to the phrase “you’re preaching to the choir”.

This year I decided to undertake a MOOC for my Board. The motivation behind the MOOC was to provide the school community with the opportunities to learn from and with each other in a flexible, online space. We opened up our learning to our coterminous board, and  our First Nation education partners. The MOOC was designed to support those who wanted to learn more about the various technological tools that are available,  to take control over their own ongoing learning and professional development, and to support teachers who were taking a lead in using technology in their classrooms by giving them a platform to showcase their knowledge.

I had the platform (Adobe), I had the enthusiasm, and I had support from fantastic teachers willing to share their expertise and experience ….and then I waited for the crowd of school community members to knock down the virtual door to engage in this PD opportunity.  And I waited….

About half-way through the MOOC,  I was asked how it was going and I said that it wasn’t going as expected. I had no new converts to tech integration and that I was “preaching to the choir” as the dedicated group of educators who turned in every week were already using some form of technology in their classrooms to engage theirstudents.  The individual responded that “preaching to the choir” was just as important as getting new members to join. The response caught me off guard but I still felt like the MOOC had failed.

Thanx to @markwcarbone I was able to attend #gafesummit in Kitchener in April.  Imagine a school filled with 600 educators on a Saturday and Sunday trying to soak up as much information as possible. The energy, passion and dedication to student learning was palpable. The choir was singing and loudly!

stacey image

It was at #gafesummit that the phrase “preaching to the choir” was again uttered and this time the words resonated with me.

Many of us our trying to support a vision of learning for our students that is not yet considered the norm. It takes the usual characteristics of perseverance, resilience, grit, passion and a healthy amount of stubbornness to keep moving forward. But, sometimes being up front, and seemingly going it alone, (we all have those moments),can make you hesitate, doubt yourself and your vision.

Where am I going with this? What have I learned?……Perhaps the most important lesson of all. I can learn the latest technology and the latest app, but learning to build and nurture relationships is vital and the key to moving forward, and growing as a person, educator and as a leader. The latest technology cannot replace a choir that sings softly in the background or boisterously when needed, but most importantly, in tune with you.  The choir build you up, puts the song back into your heart and reinvigorates.

As important as it is to build capacity among new educators, it is absolutely vital to nurture the relationships of those already “in the choir”.  Like all sound relationships, the choir needs to be nurtured, supported and given time to practice and work together as a team.  They are the early-risk takers and provide  support and encouragement to each other and you.

The next time someone says, “you’re preaching to the choir”…keep up the good work!

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” ~H.E. Luccock


Stacey Wallwin is an education leader and eLearning Contact in northern Ontario. She shares her learning and her collection of resources here.

Follow Stacey on Twitter: @wallwins

Photo Credit: Featured Image Fotografik33 via Compfight cc


Further thinking:

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Image shared by Bill Ferriter:

Further reading: The Lone Wolf – By David Truss

Day 28: Engaged Learners Need “Just Right” Feedback

Written and shared by  Rita Givlin

This year I have been introduced to the world of wrestling and have drawn many parallels between feedback in wrestling and my school’s focus on using ongoing, timely, descriptive and effective feedback to improve learning. Competing mid bronze medal match at CWOSSAA, this wrestler is appealing to her coach for help. Highly engaged but not yet successful,  she needs feedback!


What exactly is feedback?  Grant Wiggins says, “Feedback is useful information about the effects of an action in light of a goal.” This wrestler’s goal is to win and at the moment she is stuck and needs feedback to succeed.

What feedback will move her learning forward? Feedback needs to reflect only the most important steps needed to move towards achieving learning goals. Imagine this coach saying, “great job” or “good effort” both of which are true but not effective. Fortunately with timely, descriptive and effective feedback (“Pull your arm out. Get her shoulder on the mat.”) she persisted through this challenge and won! Susan Brookhardt in How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students  calls this the Goldilocks Principle – “Not too much, not too little, but just right.”

Like the wrestler, our students want, need and value feedback which will help them reach and exceed their goals. In the video clip,  Austin’s Butterfly,   Ron Berger  clearly demonstrates the importance of ongoing, timely, descriptive and effective feedback in accelerating and improving learning. How much learning is lost when students do not receive feedback that they need and deserve?

As a learner and beginning blogger, I too need and welcome your “just right” feedback.

Rita  is a vice principal at Wellesley Public School in the Waterloo Region District School Board.

Connect with Rita on Google + or Twitter

View Rita’s Blog

Day 27:This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Written and shared by Doug Peterson.

Doug Peterson works tirelessly to connect Ontario educators.  He actively promotes the thinking and writing of those working in the field of education in Ontario, and shares his own personal experiences to help push our thinking forward.  For all you do to inspire us to keep writing and sharing, Doug, here’s to you!

Doug Peterson is a sessional instructor at the Faculty of Education at the University of Windsor, and co-chair of the ECOO conferences including #BIT14.  Find out more about Doug here.

Follow on Twitter @dougpete

doug -- off the record

If you look at the URL for this post, you’ll see a “-101” at the end of it.  For those, like me, who are too lazy to create a unique URL for each post, this is WordPress’ way of creating it for you.  So, last Friday, it would have been “-100”.  To celebrate the fact that I had written the same blog post 100 times, I went about going through all of them and was working on a chart tallying how many times I had made reference to individual Ontario Education Blogs.

Then, five things happened.

  • I did the math and realized that that was actually the 101st post since the first one wouldn’t have had a digit tacked onto the end of it;
  • A friend once told me that a blogger is only as good as her/his last post;
  • I turned off the computer without saving the document;
  • I…

View original post 591 more words

Day 26: Modelling the Knowledge Building Circle

Written and shared by Heidi Siwak.

Originally posted here.

This is a quick overview of how a Knowledge Building Circle is used to build collective knowledge.

Grade 6 Geography Inquiry Begins:

Day 1: Provocation: Canada is removing the humpback whale from the threatened species list. One student is aware of the story and quickly brings the rest of the class up to date. There are 2 very different reactions. For some this is good news; the species must be safe now. For others this is terrible news; we’re not protecting whales. We remind ourselves to climb down our ladders; this is something to be explored. I lead students into a discussion of Canada’s role and responsibilities in a global community.

I then ask them to think about what a global community is and what they actually know about the world.

Schema/Prior Knowledge

Students discuss places, name a few environmental issues and one or two organizations including the UN. It is surprising how little they were able to put forward about the world. There are many things they have “kinda” heard of and many misconceptions.

As we talk, students map their current model of the world including places, events, issues, people and news stories. This is a map that they will continue to build as they learn about the world.

The roll up map is a popular tool in our classroom. It comes down frequently for various reasons. Here students are confirming place names before they add them to their global knowledge maps.

In our discussion the United Nations is mentioned. A few students have a vague understanding that it is something that includes all nations and helps out in the world.  I ask the students where it is. No one knows but 2 theories emerge:

1. It must be in the middle of the ocean because that is a place that doesn’t belong to one particular country.
2. It might be in Antarctica because that is also a place that doesn’t belong to one country.

Students decide to find out. They head to the lab and begin constructing knowledge on the United Nations.

Both hypotheses are disconfirmed.

Day 2

We hold a knowledge building circle where each student shares what they discovered about the UN to help build the collective knowledge of the class. As information is shared students discuss and use words such as assumption, I’m on the Ladder, and the language of disagreement as they clarify their understanding. New knowledge is added to the chart above. As discussion unfolds, students become more careful about word choice. Conflicting information emerges; students grapple with the information until clarity is reached. For example, various dates are mentioned in relation to the start of the UN. Eventually the group distinguishes between the League of Nations and WWI, Franklin D Roosevelt and WWII, and the physical construction in Manhattan that sits on neutral territory.

We discuss the value of the Knowledge Building Circle. Students recognize a number of things:

1. This is an application of the most effective communication pattern for learning.
2.  It is interesting to find out what others have learned.

The idea that we are building a community of knowledge is beginning to take hold.

Day 3: During the discussion students find out that our Prime Minister is not supportive of the UN. There are several gasps so I draw their attention to the Ladder of Inference and ask, “Who has just jumped up the ladder and concluded this is a bad thing?” Several hands shot up (including mine) One student speaks up and says that we really don’t have enough information to decide if it’s good or bad. We climb down our ladders and decide we need to learn more.

Day 3

I direct the students to United Nations Development Program as a starting point. As they construct knowledge there are expectations. As they read/view about places and projects, they must use Google Maps to find where those places are and add them to their paper maps to show how their understanding of the world is increasing.  They must also bring something they’ve learned to tomorrow’s Knowledge Building Circle.

As students work they converse with those nearby about their learning, help each other interpret charts and graphs,  call me over to share what they’ve found out and pose questions which are recorded on the Question Board.

A remarkable moment of thinking happened during this process. James noticed that the 8 development goals are in a particular order and wondered if the goals are ranked by priority. He then worked out a more efficient order because he felt that if certain problems were solved first, other problems would automatically be addressed.  He independently created a causal model.

Several students added interesting information to their blogs.

From Natural Curiosity

Heidi Siwak is a middle school teacher whose innovative work is creating new models of learning. She has been recognized by the Globe and Mail as one of Canada’s innovative teachers. Her students undertake original projects that challenge the boundaries of learning. Heidi and her students have won national awards for innovation in education. She has been featured on TVO’s Learning 2030 series and as a guest blogger. Her blog is carried by CBC’s digital media service in Hamilton. Heidi is currently exploring Integrative and Design Thinking with her students. She is recognized as an inspirational speaker and is available for workshops.
Follow Heidi Siwak on Twitter: @heidisiwak

Day 25: Just Do Something!

Written and shared by Kelly-Ann Power

My problem is… I overthink things.

I overthink things to the point of not even beginning something that should be a relatively easy task, if I were to just begin. I am constantly trying to think of an even better way to begin or set things up or roll out a plan. To the point of sometimes sitting very still for a long time.

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What’s the best way to organize my garage? What’s the best way to switch my winter clothes out of my closet and start bringing out my summer stuff? What’s the best way to sort out the content on my sister’s Greenhouse website? By the way, none of these 3 tasks have been started. I get stuck.

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A few weeks ago, I was quite geeked to be a part of a 4 day professional learning experience involving a “Google Bootcamp” and a “Google Summit”. Many ideas streamed by me for 4 days at lightning speed… people sharing ideas… apps to try… extensions to add to Chrome… and solid pedagogical practices that were shared. For 4 days, I tried to organize it all in my head and figure out a strategic way to implement some of the possibilities with my staff. I struggled with how to “dial it back” a notch to begin at a reasonable speed.

I had a great discussion tonight with a few colleagues as we shared and brainstormed about “what would be the best way” to share ideas with our staffs regarding curriculum, pedagogy, and integration of technology. We shared our ideas of our weekly newsletters that are sent electronically. We shared our attempts at organizing blogs according to strategies we see in our schools. We shared our face-to-face discussions.

And then I started to talk about my vision of how I’ve always wanted to start a separate page on my website that I could begin sharing weekly ideas with my staff, that would be archived online for future access as well. And as I listened to myself say “I’ve always wanted to do that, but haven’t figured out a way to organize it all yet”, I realized that I could be putting it off for a very long time. I stared into space for a brief moment, and I realized… stop trying to organize it all and just begin.

The process just repeats with me.

Learn… reflect… do.

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It’s the timing of each that seems to vary with me.

What have you been spending too much time organizing your thinking around? What can you begin tomorrow?



Kelly-Ann Power is a Vice-Principal in the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board serving as a Vice-Principal representative for the WEPVPA Executive.  Her previous role for 10 years prior to being a Vice-Principal was as a teacher consultant in the area of Assessment & Evaluation for the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board.  As a facilitator of professional learning,  she was afforded the opportunity of working along side both elementary and secondary colleagues in the school and classroom settings.  Her 12 years of classroom teaching experience, prior to becoming a consultant, in the St. Clair Catholic District School Board spanned Grades 1 to 8, as well as Special Education.

  • twitter @kellypower

Photo Credits:

Stuck – Neal. via Compfight cc

Swings – Todd Binger via Compfight cc