Monday, 25 January 2021

 Professionally Speaking - June 2020



This excellent article highlights great strategies that I love to see included in all classrooms.  

Pareen Gill is doing amazing work in her classroom.  

Check out her work in the article below. 

- Collaborative group work that includes co-operative education 

- An inclusive caring environment 

- Student lead interviews 

- Positive Growth Mindset

- Having an Attitude of Gratitude 

- Teaching character education across the curriculum

- Spirit Assemblies 

- Self Regulation through understanding the brain 

- and more!!


Also posted to the High Yield Strategies Tab on January 25, 2021.


Tuesday, 3 November 2020


This is the Special Education Plan 2017-2018  for the Halton District School Board.

Have a look to see what one looks like. 

Please Click Here: Halton Special Education Plan

Also found under the Special Education Tab.


Thursday, 15 October 2020



Here is what a Toronto Tech firm has started!!

Check out this short video 

25 Boards in Ontario have signed up.

Check out the TECH TEAM that has started this at:

Click Here For: The Virtual Campus

Also located under the following Tabs:

 Online Education and Technology 

& Blogs and Articles that Inspire 

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Enhancing Social-Emotional Engagement in Online Classes

An excerpt from the article Published on September 5, 2020
By: Camille Rutherford
Vice-Provost, Strategic Partnerships, Brock University

The theoretical constructions of social and emotional engagement have many overlapping elements. In reviewing the relevant literature (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, and Paris, 2004) noted that these terms refer to the same features, which describes students’ positive and negative emotional reactions toward teachers, classmates, academic works, as well as a sense of identification with and belonging to the school, value school outcomes, and feel as though they are supported by their peers and teachers (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, and Paris, 2004) 

Connecting with their peers is an essential element of social-emotional engagement and collaborative learning where it is demonstrated by the effort of students to contribute to class discussions, work with other students, and engage in other class activities (Kuh, 2003). Learning is enhanced when it is collaborative and social, not competitive, and isolated. 

In addition to the fact that working with others often increases involvement in learning, having the opportunity to share one’s ideas and responding to others’ improves thinking and deepens understanding (Chickering & Ehrmann, 1996). 

Social-emotional engagement also includes a focus on how the learning tasks are related to the broader social context (Kahu, 2013). Studies have shown that students will tend to invest more effort and achieve more when their assignments are perceived to have personal importance to them (Collaço, 2017).

Having a positive relationship with their peers can be essential to the creation of learning communities where students are at ease with one another so that they may work collaboratively, freely share opinions and respond constructively to the ideas of their peers. 

These conditions are a necessary prerequisite for the critical thinking that supports learning to occur (Chickering & Gamson, 1987). 

Thus, to encourage students to be socially and emotionally engaged in their learning, instructors will need to ensure that their online courses include the following NSSE-related tasks that require students to:

- Ask questions or contribute to course discussions
- Connect ideas from your course to their prior experiences and knowledge
- Connect their learning to societal problems or issues
- Ask another student to help you understand course material
- Explain course material to one or more students
- Work with other students on course projects or assignments
- Include diverse perspectives (political, religious, racial/ethnic, gender, etc.) in course 
     discussions or assignments
- Try to better understand someone else's views by imagining how an issue looks from his or 
     her perspective
- Evaluate what others have concluded from numerical information
- Understand people of other backgrounds (economic, racial/ethnic, political, religious, 
   nationality, etc.)
- Have discussions with people from a different race or ethnicity
- Have discussions with people from a different economic background
- Have discussions with people with different religious beliefs
- Have discussions with people with from different religious beliefs
- Have discussions with people with different political views

Unlike in large lecture halls, online learning can make it easier for students to ask questions and contribute to discussions, where raising your hand in the presence of hundreds of your peers can be very intimidating. 

A core element of most learning management systems are discussion forums that facilitate discussions amongst hundreds of students. Dynamic online discussion tools, that allow for audio or video posts like Flipgrid and VoiceThread can provide more students with behavioural engagement opportunities than would have been possible in a traditional classroom. Online discussions enable students to ask questions, have discussions with others that are different from themselves, so that they may better comprehend someone else's views by imagining how an issue looks from his or her perspective and understand people of other backgrounds.

Collaboration tools like Google G-Suite and Microsoft’s Office 365 mitigate the complexity of having students work with other students on course projects or assignments this is vital as collaboration is key to promoting engagement in the online classroom (Robinson & Hullinger, 2008). Thus, it is essential for instructors to design online opportunities for students to have meaningful interactions with peers and afford richer opportunities for collaborative learning (Paulsen & McCormick, 2020).

Even before the current level of ubiquitous access to social media tools, Chickering & Ehrmann (1996) identified the potential of online learning to promote authentic problem solving and the applications to academic learning to real-life situations. The public nature of social media provides instructors with unique and innovative opportunities to foster authentic and highly relevant learning experiences. 

Online tools that facilitate brainstorming and authentic problem solving like OpenIDEO and Tricider enable students to apply what they are learning to consequential issues that may have local, national, or global implications. As a consequence, it is paramount that instructors create online learning tasks that students will regard as being socially relevant (Furlong & Christenson, 2008). 

By integrating the types of experiences that facilitate social-emotional engagement into their courses, instructors can support learning that moves beyond the private learning spaces of the ivory tower and permit students to benefit from learning from noted experts and practitioners outside of their campus community (Rutherford, 2010).

Also posted to the Online Learning and Technology Page - Part A


Using Technology to Foster Cognitive Engagement 
& Deep Learning

Camille Rutherford
Vice-Provost, Strategic Partnerships & International at Brock University

Regardless of how engaging an instructor is, deep learning does not occur when students passively listen to lectures. 

The development of deep understanding cannot occur if there isn’t an appropriate level of cognitive challenge that requires learners to engage in the application, analysis, synthesis, or evaluation of information (Paulsen & McCormick, 2020). 

In contrast to passive, lecture-based learning, students are often more engaged in active learning tasks that require them to partake in cognitively challenging, problem-based learning (Collaço, 2017).

 For deep learning to occur, instructors must include an appropriate level of cognitive challenge in their courses. 

Indicators of deep learning and cognitive engagement can include asking questions for clarification of ideas, persistence in difficult activities, flexibility in problem-solving, and the use of learning strategies that connect new ideas to existing information (Collaço, 2017). Aligned with the NSSE survey, the inclusion of the following tasks in online courses will serve to facilitate cognitive engagement:

- Learn something that changed their understanding of an issue or concept
- Connect ideas from your course to their prior experiences and knowledge
- Apply facts, theories, or methods to practical problems or new situations
- Analyze an idea, experience, or line of reasoning in depth by examining its parts
- Evaluate a point of view, decision, or information source
- Form a new idea or understanding from various pieces of information
- Reach conclusions based on their analysis of numerical information (numbers, graphs, 
      statistics, etc.)
- Use numerical information to examine a real-world problem or issue (unemployment, 
     climate change, public health, etc.)
- Think critically and analytically
- Analyze numerical and statistical information
- Solve complex real-world problems
- Be an informed and active citizen
- Acquire job or work-related knowledge and skills

In their review of how technology could be used successfully in conjunction with the seven principles of good undergraduate teaching, Chickering & Ehrmann (1996) remarked that learning online could be used to promote the application of learning to real-life situations and problem-solving.  The promise of using technology to engage students has greatly increased since this statement was made. 

The public nature of most social media resources like TwitterReddit, and Wikipedia can be used to support the application of facts, theories, or methods to practical problems or new situations, evaluate a point of view, decision, or information source, and form new ideas or understanding from various pieces of information. 

Governmental open data portals, the GitHub Open Data site or other scientific data sharing repositories like the ones recommended by the journal Nature can challenge students to think critically and analytically as they analyze numerical and statistical information in the pursuit of solving complex real-world problems, acquire work-related knowledge and skills as they become informed and active citizens. 

Authentic learning opportunities, such as these, can stimulate intrinsic motivation and encourage students to focus on learning rather than grades. Intrinsically motivated students prefer a challenge and are more likely to persist when faced with difficulty (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, and Paris, 2004).

Also posted to the Online Learning and Technology Page - Part B


Tuesday, 22 September 2020

 Teaching Online At York University 

A resources site for university instructors

Click Here for: Teaching Online At York University

This link is also posted to the the Online Instruction and Technology Tab



When to Teach Online Classes Live 


When to Let Students Learn on Demand

Click here for this article: Live or On Demand Online Instruction

Also posted to the Online Instruction and Technology Tab



Relationships and  Building An Online Community

A PDF POSTER & PowerPoint

By: Dr. Nicola Simmons

Click here for the PDF: Things to Consider Before You Teach Online

Click here for the brief Powerpoint on: Developing An Online Community - Relationship Building

Also posted to the Online Instruction and Technology Tab





AUGUST 21st, 2020

He was a renowned education reformer whose 2006 TED talk on  

"CREATIVITY IN EDUCATION" remains the most watched

  TED talk in history. 

Every "New Teacher Candidate" I have taught since 2008 and my last school staff know how much a loved Sir Ken Robinson and his presentation titled:  Do Schools Kill Creativity?”  

His passing was a shock not only to me but to all educators who had met Sir Ken through his 2006 presentation which we all still hold close to our hearts today. 

He has made an incredible difference in pointing out how kids are smart and how their program should be differentiated.  

He coached students for success through their strengths. 

I believe he will go down in history with other influential educators such as John Dewey. 

I send condolences to his family and thank them for sharing him with the world of education.   I am still in shock to read that he has left us at the age of 70. Gone far to soon. 

Please Check Here for:  A TRIBUTE TO SIR KEN

Also Found at:

Also posted to the Educational Leaders and Inspirational Educational Articles Tab

Many of his articles and videos were previously posted to this Tab.




Focusing on Instructional Design Support, Applied Learning, and Online Teaching 

By: The Centre for Continuing Education, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario

Click Here For This Article: Online Learning and Instructional Design

Also posted to Online Learning And Technology In Education