Why Share? A Further Look At EDTV.

Last week, I blogged about my EDTV thinking and some future plan ideas. There are many reasons that I love blogging, but one of which is that it can start a conversation. This is exactly what happened with this post.

The conversation started thanks to Nancy Angevine-Sands and a comment that she left on my post. Nancy has always made me think more about parent engagement versus involvement, and her comment here pushed my thinking even further.

  • First, she wondered about the use of a YouTube channel. I actually have a YouTube channel that I used a lot many years ago, but I’ve used less over the years. When we started creating these EDTV videos for camp, we were focused on making them short. The idea was to make them between 1 and 2 minutes, where we would share a few ideas and provide families with some home learning options. I always think about YouTube for longer videos — probably because this is how I used it so many years ago — but it doesn’t need to be just for these. The conversation on the VoicEd Radio Show this week, reminded me that many people regularly access YouTube. Maybe uploading videos to this space would be a way to not just engage our parent community, but also the larger community.
  • Then, she mentioned having a meeting to explain these options to families. This is a great idea! In our school community, I have heard that informal conversations with parents can be very beneficial. I’m almost imagining a table set-up — maybe even at a Meet the Teacher Night — where we can share more about EDTV and the value of these videos. This could also be a great way to find out more about topics that families want to hear more about, and target recordings to meet these needs. Having an anonymous survey might work well to hear input from some families, while chatting about options, might work well for others. Often people love to munch and mingle, so I’m envisioning adding some snacks to this table space.
  • After that, she spoke about the use of multiple languages. Her comment made me think about our new Language Curriculum Document, and the discussion about translanguaging. I’m wondering how we can not only invite families to share learning in multiple ways and multiple languages, but how we can be more intentional about including multiple languages and experiences as part of our video provocations.
  • Finally, she spoke about how “effective and meaningful engagement takes place in the home.” She had me thinking about the question prompts that Aaron Puley always used to suggest that I leave at the end of my blog posts for families. While we might be able to write a question or two down in a post after recording a video, I wonder if we can also include these questions as part of our videos. Maybe sharing the ideas orally as well as writing them down would also meet different family needs, as having text there could help with translation apps. There is always so much to consider.

This discussion evolved even more when Doug Peterson, Stephen Hurley, and Heather Swail discussed my post on the This Week In Ontario Edublogs VoicEd Canada Radio Show. Here are some points that really stood out to me.

  • First, there is value in variation. In my last blog post, I included an example of a video that I shared with the camp. Nobody is only going to want to see videos of me, nor will they only want to see videos in my car. This summer, we have had classroom instructors, site leads, and administrators record and share videos through our private Instagram account and on Twitter. For the upcoming school year, I would love to have classroom educators and administrators also share videos for EDTV. When I shared my last blog post on Instagram, Jennifer Casa-Todd mentioned a willingness to be a guest recorder. This would be an interesting option to explore. Could there be guests across our Board and across Ontario, who would share their ideas and question prompts on EDTV?
  • Next, there is the point about a background. I will admit that for the summer recordings, we didn’t worry too much about settings. People recorded videos everywhere from their car to their classroom, but maybe we need to consider some different settings. Seeing specific items or areas, might also further the learning. I wonder if a green screen would be helpful at times. This is not something that I’ve worked with a lot in the past, but maybe there is some new learning for me in this area as well.
  • Finally, there is the question about student involvement. It would be wonderful to have ways for students and families to also partake more publicly in this sharing. I wonder if this would help further create a community of learners. This summer, I know that some families began to tweet us about their home experiences and/or responses to their question prompts. This could work during the school year. Families might also comment on an Instagram post, a YouTube video, or a blog post, but are we getting enough participation in this way? Considering the media component of the new Language Document, I wonder if there’s a way to link this sharing within the school environment. I can almost imagine a Speakers Corner set-up — am I dating myself for remembering this TV show? Definitely more to contemplate here.

I’m not sure how many answers I have now, versus further wonderings, but as the end of the summer draws closer, I want to keep these thoughts and questions at the forefront of my mind. That’s why I’m blogging about them here. What other ideas and questions do you have to add to the conversation? It will be interesting to see the evolution of EDTV. Thanks for being a part of the process!


EDTV and Parent Engagement: Possibilities For The Upcoming School Year

Over 11 years ago, Aaron Puley and I started conversing, sharing, and reflecting on parent engagement together. At the time, he was the Parent and Student Engagement Consultant for our Board, and now, he’s a vice principal. I’m reminded of these discussions a lot this summer in my role as the Coordinator for Camp Power and Camp CLIMB. Parent engagement is an important component of these camps, and just like all of those years ago with Aaron, we’ve definitely been talking a lot about viewing engagement through an equity lens.

This summer, we’ve been thinking about a few different ways that we can engage parents, while also being responsive to their requests and insights. For the first time ever, we started a camp Instagram account, as we know that many families are on Instagram, but not necessarily Twitter. That said, some families and educators engage with us through Twitter, so we did not want to remove this option. We decided though to use Instagram in a slightly different — more focused — way. We’re creating EDTV videos, where instructors, site leads, and maybe even administrators, share a daily 1-2 minute video about learning at the camp and a home extension opportunity. Either through the video or through the description, we’re asking questions and inviting conversations with families about learning at home. Knowing that some families like to interact with us more on Twitter, we’re also tweeting out these videos each day. I really appreciated this tweeted reply to our first video.

As I started to post more of these videos, I had an epiphany, which a few days later, has inspired this blog post.

What about taking this idea back to the school? I realize that a social media way of sharing is not going to work for every family, but I wonder if these short video recordings could be a good way to share school learning and extension opportunities for home. Maybe by cross-posting to Twitter, Instagram, and even a blog (I’ve just requested a new one 🙂 ), we can engage more families and inspire more sharing.

In September, I’m starting as a Reading Specialist at a different school. As I build relationships with the staff there, it would be great if they could also share their recordings on this platform. These videos would align with the learning shared through our monthly Reading Specialist Meetings and the experiences taking place at school. I would love if families could also start to request topics for videos — maybe both through an online survey and a home paper option. I’m still thinking about exactly what this will look like, but I’m hoping that this blog post will make me accountable to jump in and try something new. Will it work for everyone? Probably not. But could this be an effective way to engage families and share school experiences? I think that it could, and seeing the number of families that are following along with these videos this summer, I’m seeing a lot of potential. Have you ever tried something similar before, and how did families respond? I’d love to hear your insights as I continue to think aloud — and think publicly — about this new engagement opportunity. Every year, when we reflect at camp with those from the Ontario Summer Literacy Program, we’re asked what learning from the summer might make its way back into the classroom during the school year. After only one week of camp, this is one way that I would share. I can’t wait to see what the next couple of weeks bring!


Please note that I realize that there are many different kinds of families, and when I speak about “parent engagement,” I’m including engaging all of the caring adults in our lives.

Creating Digital Trails

Recently, I wrote a blog post, which resulted in an interesting comment from Doug Peterson.

While this was not necessarily the intent of my post, Doug got me thinking about different uses of blogs.

I returned to this thinking recently, when I left a comment on his post yesterday about ChatGPT and interviews.

I started to think, maybe I need to record my thinking in a blog post, so that I can return to it if/when we explore school uses for ChatGPT.

Further to what I shared in my blog post comment, it would be interesting to critically analyze the questions that students write.

  • Which ones are ChatGPT more likely to answer correctly, and which ones are not?
  • If ChatGPT cannot answer the questions correctly, could the students utilize the information available online to answer the questions themselves?
  • How might students need to reformulate questions to allow for more in-depth answers?

The new Language Document, makes lots of connections between Language expectations and the content areas, and this kind of activity would definitely support this learning.

As I write this post, I’m thinking about a tweet from Jennifer Angle back in May.

I know that there was an overlap here between AI and questioning (interviews), and I wish that I could remember the exact use of ChatGPT in this experience. I do know that by including this tweet in my post, I will think more about what happened here, and reach out to Jennifer to find out more about the evolution of this project.

When we blog, we create a digital trail of our thinking and learning, and provide opportunities to re-explore, re-think, and re-use ideas from the past. How have you used blogging in this way? Thanks Doug for not only inspiring this blog post, but for reminding me about the importance of documenting my thinking here, so that I can return to it again … maybe this year, maybe next year, or maybe many years down the line.


How do you troubleshoot?

Doug Peterson is one of my favourite bloggers. For a while now, each Sunday at 5:00, he shares a recap of his reading highlights from the week. Since Doug often points me to interesting stories, blogs, and news articles, I always enjoy perusing this weekly post. As part of each post, Doug often includes some “technology troubleshooting.” While I like reading these troubleshooting stories, Doug’s far more advanced than me in his technology skills, so I’ll admit that I frequently sit in awe of what he accomplishes and his thought process throughout. An experience today though had me thinking more about “technology troubleshooting.”

I was out with a friend for lunch today, and when I returned home, I heard from another friend of mine. She just received a personal report from a doctor in Montreal, but the report was in French. She was hoping that I might be able to help her translate it. Now I’ve used Google translate many times before, but never for text contained in a document. I figured that there must be a way to do this. I started with the help of Google.

I thought about asking “how to translate a document from French to English.” Google suggested a couple of different apps. I downloaded both of them. Apps are always easy … right?! These might have been easy, but in order to translate documents, they required a paid subscription. No thank you. There must be another way.

I went back to Google, and saw a list of steps to translate a document from my computer. Perfect! I would just download the file to my computer and go from there. I’m good at following steps. It was going great until I saw this message.

At this point, I gave up. I called my friend back and explained that since the document was scanned, I could not translate it. She would need to call her doctor to ask for a translated document or a copy of the original text (that I could then copy and translate). She thanked me for the help, and figured that she would investigate more tomorrow.

While there was no push for me to do any more, I couldn’t stop thinking about this translating problem. There must be something that I could do. I decided to sit with the problem until after dinner tonight. At one point during my Google investigations, I saw that you could use the Lens App for translating documents. I have Microsoft Lens on my iPhone. I know that with Lens, you can share documents to the Immersive Reader. This got me thinking: text in the Immersive Reader would no longer appear as scanned. If I could then export this text, I could copy it and put it into Google Translate. Hmmm …

  • I took a screenshot of the report.
  • I opened the screenshot in the Lens app.
  • I shared it to the Immersive Reader.
  • Then I exported it from the Immersive Reader and opened it in Word.
  • I copied the text from Word and put it into Google Translate.
  • I translated the text to English.
  • Then I copied the English text and emailed it back to my friend.

Yay! Something that I was sure today wouldn’t work — and couldn’t work — did work with a few additional attempts, some extra wait time, and the drive to solve this problem.

In another moment of problem solving joy, as I’m writing this blog post, I realized that I could have done the same thing in fewer steps.

  • Take a screenshot of the report.
  • Open the screenshot in the Lens app.
  • Save it to Word.
  • Copy the text from Word and put it into Google Translate.
  • Translate the text to English.
  • Copy the English text and send it back to my friend.

While I haven’t tested it out, I could probably have exported this Word Document as a PDF, saved it to my computer, and followed the steps to translate a document that I started out with earlier this afternoon.

Why bother blogging about this? Even as an adult, it’s amazing how much joy you can feel when you solve a hard problem.

  • What’s a hard problem for you, might not be for someone else.
  • Maybe your solution to the problem is just one of many, but that’s okay.
  • If we want to understand how students feel when challenged with problems, maybe we also need to experience this for ourselves.
  • Could reflecting on the process of how we solve a challenging problem, help us when guiding and/or supporting kids?

When was the last time that you had to do some troubleshooting? What’s your story? I’m going to be looking out for a few more troubleshooting experiences this summer. It’s amazing how good you can feel when something that you don’t think can work, actually does!


Two Months Off?

I’ve been seeing this article shared widely recently, as I also engage on Twitter with many of the educators included in it.

Like these teachers, I’m not taking two full months of vacation.

All of this being said, I’ve been contemplating the common complaint that teachers “get two months off.” While I think it’s wonderful that we share our learning, classroom preparation, and professional experiences over those two months, what if we did take the two months off? In education, we talk a lot about mental health and well-being. Sometimes taking a step away from the classroom, and truly taking the opportunity to recharge, to spend time with family and friends, and to find some quiet time alone, are all great things. Maybe this is what some, many, or even all of us need in order to bring our best selves back to the classroom in September!

While I will likely tweet or share on Instagram about my professional learning, you’ll also see me post about my many non-educational reads this summer. I think this has value as well. An educational leader who I truly admire, told me many years ago, the importance of learning how to both “work hard” and “vacation hard.” Breaks are not bad things. They often give us the patience, the reflection time, and the stamina to do better when school starts again. Please educators, administrators, and educational leaders, share all of your amazing learning in the next couple of months, but also, share your time to unwind. You deserve it. We all do. Teachers may get “two months off,” and maybe that is a perk of the position, but I don’t know one educator who stays in education for that reason alone. Do you?