Archive for February, 2017

Differentiated Instruction-video selection

This blog item “What is Differentiated Instruction? on the site edtechreview presents a pithy overview of DI, but it also includes a selection 6 videos on various aspects of DI (including one from Alberta Education, see below). Check ’em out! Rowan

February 28, 2017 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Cell phone use in schools

There have been some recent news articles about school board policies regarding cell phone use after “Earl Grey Senior Public School students were told this week that they would have to leave their cell phones in their lockers during and between classes starting Tuesday ” Toronto Star, February 18, 2017  Toronto school bans cellphones from class.

Read/view the Global News and CTV items on this.

In today’s print edition of the Star, reporter M. McQuigge included an article titled “School rethink cellphones in class” (p A7) or the online version “After years of trying to ban cellphones, many schools are now trying to make them work in the classroom” in which she refers to Thierry Karsenti, Canada Research chair on  Technologies in Education,  who says “the majority of schools he’s studied persist in fruitless bans against smartphones, edicts that students will inevitably ignore”

Looking for more information on this: Check out this 2012 article from The Atlantic Do Cell Phones belong in the Classroom or this 2016 Huffington Post article Why Phones Don’t Belong in School or from the Guardian in 2015 Schools that Ban Mobiles see Better Academic Results. 

The Professional Library has a book that might interest you –  Cell Phones in the classroom: A Practical Guide for Educators (2011, Liz Kolb).

Check it out – lots of content and opinions for some great debates. Rowan

February 27, 2017 at 5:09 pm 1 comment

Learning Partnership free app on financial literacy (Gr 7-10)

Announced on the Learning Partnership site: 

“The Learning Partnership is incredibly excited to announce the launch of our newest project, Save the Camp! – a game-based learning app designed to teach financial literacy to students in grades 7-10.

Created in collaboration with Meridian Credit Union, Save the Camp! is a tower defence game where success depends on how well you manage your money. The game features everything players have come to know and love about tower defence — repelling waves of enemies with an arsenal of unique towers — but puts a spin on the genre by focussing on how players allocate their resources and save for the future.

The core mechanic involves constructing towers that can be can be purchased in two ways: either with a limited reserve of cash or with credit that quickly accumulates interest. At the end of each level, any outstanding debt is balanced against remaining cash and the surplus is placed into a savings account.

As the game progresses and increases in difficulty, players will realize that keeping their borrowing under control and maximizing their savings will be essential for success in the final stages.

Designed with educator and student input, the game follows guidelines put forward in the Ontario Ministry of Education Scope and Sequence of Expectations for financial literacy.

In the coming weeks, a teacher’s handbook will be made available that contains sample lesson plans, discussion questions and ideas on how to use Save the Camp! in your classroom.

The game is completely free , contains no in-app purchases and can be played today.”  Available from the Apple App store or Google Play

February 27, 2017 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Spring 2017 edition of Education Canada (CEA) available

A preview of the Spring 2017 issue of Education Canada is available on the CEA site – a theme issue on welcoming newcomer students.

Check out the article The Immigrant (Dis)advantage (Volante, Klinger, siegel, Bilgili). From the conclusion: “Canada ranks significantly higher than the international average in the use of effective immigrant policies and has done a fairly good job of supporting the academic achievement of their immigrant student population. Nevertheless, the challenge of immigrant integration is still a pressing concern for national and provincial governments,[x] as evidenced by the performance disadvantages that are present in several Canadian provinces. Ultimately, it is up to provincial governments to study and reduce these achievement gaps. To date, our PISA results suggest we have much to celebrate, but also some cause for concern.”




February 24, 2017 at 4:08 am Leave a comment

March issue of Professionally Speaking available online

The March issue of Professionally Speaking [OCT] is now available online [pdf]. It devotes a large section to AQ courses, but also a couple of articles about the TDSB community including OCT Helen Wolfe from Nelson Mandela (read her tips on running successful school clubs) and winning Olympian Penny Oleksiak (Monarch Park and how the school supported the balance on school/training) .

Check it out, and remember, the Professional Library is open all year for TDSB teachers with a FABULOUS library staff to support you.


February 22, 2017 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Diverse Books: OLA jot notes

The 7th and final post from Natalie C., one of our fabulous reference librarian who attended this year’s OLA super conference – and who obviously enjoyed many sessions during her 3 days there.


One of my favourite sessions from last year’s Super Conference was a panel hosted by Teacher-Librarian Fatma Faraj on the importance of promoting children’s books reflective of diverse populations – #WeHaveDiverseBooks. You can read my blog post on last year’s session here.

This year, Fatma hosted the session solo and highlighted some of the best diverse Canadian children’s books that have come out in the last year.

Starting the Conversation: Fatma suggests using What Makes Us Unique? by Jillian Roberts to get the diversity discussion started. While the book may be a bit general, she suggests using it as a launchpad before moving to more specific texts.  You can borrow What Makes Us Unique? from the Professional Library.

Finding Yourself & Fitting In: Fatma tells her students that “exploring is not always about what we find in the world. It’s also about what we find in ourselves.” She suggests Bear’s Winter Party by Deborah Hodge and Akilak’s Adventure by Deborah Kigjugalik Webster for readers in need of some internal discovery

Getting Kids Hooked: To get children interested in an ongoing story featuring diverse characters, Fatma recommends two series:

    • West Meadow Detectives by Liam O’Donnell: This series features a protagonist who has autism. The author is also one of TDSB’s Writers in Residence. Encourage your students to submit a book review to Just Read It and your school could win a visit from Liam.
    • Shu-Li by Paul Yee: A touching series featuring strong multicultural relationships

New Homes: With the recent refugee ban issued by our neighbours to the south, it’s going to be important to find texts that explore immigration and emigration thoughtfully. Fatma suggests Adrift at Sea by Marsha Skrypuch, Stepping Stones by Margaret Ruurs, and Seeking Refuge by Irene N. Watts.

Indigenous Stories: Fatma highlighted several texts featuring Indigenous characters. Some to note:



Fatma singled out I Am Not a Number, which you can borrow from the Professional Library and When We Were Alone, which she says will make you cry.

Forest of Reading;  If you’re looking for texts featuring diverse characters that your students are already reading, Fatma suggests that you look no further than the current Forest of Reading selections, especially this year’s Silver Birch picks. She points out OCDaniel by Wesley King specifically saying that “If you want to build empathy in your kids, have them read OCDaniel.”

A Few Other Special Picks: A couple other texts mentioned in Fatma’s talk:


For more great reads from Fatma Faraj, follow her on Twitter at @HoldFastLibrary

Whew, great job Natalie!

February 21, 2017 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

Fraser Institute 2017 Report Card on secondary schools

February 21, 2017 at 9:37 am Leave a comment

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