Replied to Embracing Type II fun For Teachers (Joel Speranza)

With the incredibly rapid move to online learning teachers have scrambled. FAST. It’s been tough, it’s been stressful, there’s been quite a few late nights. And in the process we’ve all got a little taste of what mountain climbers call TYPE II fun.

Joel, your discussion of fun has me thinking about Seymour Papert’s idea of hard fun.

It is expressed in many different ways, all of which all boil down to the conclusion that everyone likes hard challenging things to do. But they have to be the right things matched to the individual and to the culture of the times. These rapidly changing times challenge educators to find areas of work that are hard in the right way: they must connect with the kids and also with the areas of knowledge, skills and (don’t let us forget) ethic adults will need for the future world.

Thinking about such ‘fun’ is it fair to say there is always a level of agency and autonomy involved. The choice to use Kahoot! or the choice to run a marathon. I wonder what opportunities can be provided for students at the moment to engage in Type II fun?

On a side note, your discussion of fear and fun reminded me of Kevin Parker discussing his intent to put himself in challenging situations.

Scott Morrison urges teachers to open schools amid coronavirus so parents can put ‘food on the table’

Cameron Malcher responds to Morrison’s ‘plead’ for teachers to reopen. He highlights that schools as such have never shut, focusing on ‘heroes’ avoids on the government bodies who actually make the decisions.

The point is that is any Australian family who finds themselves in a position of having to choose between their employment and their child’s education is in that situation, in no small part, because of the specific approach to stimulus and economic support that the PM has chosen. (link)

Like with the wartime rhetoric, he appears to be shifting responsibility to a group in society with less power than himself (teachers) for any difficulty faced by Australians, despite the fact those difficulties could have been directly alleviated by the PM/govt.(link)

Also, I want to point out what an odd notion it is that families would have to choose between employment and education. First, as schools are open to students, no parent has to make that choice. Second, that choice would only arise if a child can’t go to school…(link)

For Malcher, this is not about ‘teachers’ but a message to the Victorian government.

The conflict between the Federal LNP govt. and the Victorian Labor govt. has been at the fore of the national COVID-19 response. Victoria, where term 1 ended earlier, closed schools early by bringing forward and extending schools holidays while strategies were developed

This Victorian action happened at a time when the PM was talking about keeping schools open. Though even the LNP Pemiere of NSW was, at the time, talking about implementing stricter measures that Fed govt. requirements – the tension between state and feds was evident. (link)

Jane Caro questions why educators need the guilt trip when schools are open and teachers are going above and beyond.

That’s a hell of a responsibility to be laying at your average teacher’s feet. And, as the elected leader of our country, is it really fair of him to hold teachers responsible for the economy? Is it reasonable to ask them to choose between their own health and that of their families and keeping the engine of commerce alive?

Gillian Light provides two responses to Morrison’s appeal to teachers. Firstly, that as a teacher it is not her decision about whether to return to school or not. Secondly, schools in Victoria have never actually closed

The most important reason I won’t tell you whether I think schools should be open or closed is because it doesn’t matter – it’s not my decision. I’m an employee of a state Education Department and I do what I’m told. I was told, at the end of Term 1, to prepare for the possibility of remote teaching. So I did. And continued to prepare during school holidays. At the end of the holidays, I was told to begin remotely teaching my students which I’m now doing to the best of my ability. I’ve worked harder in this last 2 weeks than I ever have before, something I didn’t actually think possible. I was also asked if I was willing and able to go on a roster to supervise children of those who are unable to work from home (while continuing to remotely teach the rest) which I have also done and continue to do.

Some suggest that this is all a form of gaslighting, while others like Paul Kelly speaking on the Coronacast podcast suggest that schools are more controllable:

Norman Swan: So Keli asks, on schools, why are we reopening schools when social distance is so important? And I suppose the add-on to Kelly’s question I’d ask is, well, how do you socially distance when you’ve got 14-year-olds in the playground?

Paul Kelly: Very difficult. And I understand that. In fact two of my sisters are teachers, one of them currently working as the schools come back in New South Wales. So of course these things are challenging, and I think the point is you can do is best you can in terms of social distancing. There is certainly a lot you can do about hygiene around the school.

Tegan Taylor: Why can kids go to school but they are not allowed to play on public playgrounds?

Paul Kelly: Well, that’s a challenge, some of these things I can certainly see how it is difficult to maintain those two conflicting pieces of advice. I’d say this though, at least in schools we do know who is on the school playground and there is some ability within the school environment to increase those hygiene messages and cleaning, for example. Public playgrounds are a bit less of a controlled environment, more open to others coming in, so I think that’s part of it. But look, I think as we go forward, we’ve been so successful in dampening down the curve, flattening the curve and so few cases that in the next month we will be seeing the relaxation of many of those things that have been introduced.

Above all else, Jordan Baker highlights the stress that the federal – state divide in education has created throughout this crisis.

For Piccoli, COVID-19 has provided yet another argument for Australia following the lead of Canada, and dumping the federal education ministry altogether – a proposal also outlined by former Coalition opposition leader John Hewson last week. “In Canada, the provinces run their own systems, and to me that kind of competitive federalism is most effective,” says Piccoli. “Each jurisdiction learns off the other ones, from their successes and failures.

“When you try to standardise things, in education or anywhere else, I don’t think it works as well. NSW had a basic skills test, and the other states wanted to do the same thing, so they made it national [in the form of NAPLAN]. But once it’s national, you can’t change it. National bodies should set a strategy, and state regulators should be responsible for the implementation of that strategy.”

Replied to The tightrope balance of parenting (

So parenting tips are something that will always be tricky to give. What works for some, doesn’t work for all. That said, I really think Dave Sands and go over some ideas that are not prescriptive, but rather they are things to think about when trying to deal with kids learning at home… no matter how you currently parent or how good or challenging your kids might be. Here are the tips:

1. Manage Expectations
2. Make a Schedule
3. Minimize Distractions
4. Learning occurs everywhere
5. Set daily and weekly goals
6. All screen time is not created equal
7. Model learning.

The biggest challenge we have faced with supporting our daughter with online learning has been the development of a schedule. Some days my daughter is ready and eager to start learning at 8 in the morning, but the schedule we negotiated states that she starts work at 9. Another interesting challenge has been in regards to the online sessions which run at a different time each day. It certainly is a tightrope.
Liked Remote Learning Teaching Tips (

Below are some tips for teachers and administrators to assist with implementing remote learning. Please note that these are only suggestions. If digital access is a challenge, check out these practical ideas that can be implemented without any tech. Now, without further ado, here are some remote learning teaching tips.

  • Keep sound instructional design at the forefront.
  • Design experiences that align with the current scope and sequence for the marking period or semester. The goal is to try to eliminate any significant learning loss while allowing kids to progress to the next grade level.
  • Develop a balance between synchronous (live session) and asynchronous (tasks to be completed offline) teaching and learning.
  • Use the same amount of interactive activities that you would in class (every 15 – 20 min or so), but have students respond using a digital tool. Here you can find a listing or some great options.
  • Use a URL shortener to make links easily accessible in a slide presentation or push out using a Learning Management System (i.e., Google Classroom, Canvas, Schoology). My favorites at and tinyurl.
  • Utilize chat and screen share features inherent in video conference tools.
  • Leverage an adaptive learning tool if your school or district has purchased a license. If not, consider this PreK – 12 resource from Khan Academy or some tools highlighted HERE.
  • Incorporate movement (i.e., Go Noodle) and mindfulness
  • Create supplemental resources to go along with the lesson. These could be a digital handout in the form of a Google Doc, articles to read, anchor charts, skeleton outline for notes, etc.
  • Provide flexible timelines for students to complete work.
  • Set up video conference sessions for students who are confused to ask questions or get extra help.
  • Focus more on providing timely, actionable, and accurate feedback as opposed to grades. If grading is mandated, make sure it is realistic and fair. Consider giving students a series of assignments over a period of time where only one or two, not all, will be assessed for a grade.
  • Ensure SPED accommodations are being met.
My daughter sprung out of her seat today with excitement on receiving a notification about a series of activities shared by her specialist teachers. Although she misses her friends, she also misses her teachers and the learning opportunities they provide. I am not sure if every student would have had the same response to such a notification. It also had me thinking about Dave Cormier’s discussion of care as education’s first principle and the influence this has in online learning spaces.
Replied to

Here is my contribution to #tdc3026 I call it Meg Lee, a combination of The Meg and Johnny L’s cover of Ben Lee’s song We’re All in This Together

Life is about compromise. For a while Ms4 has been having her nails painted when we cut them. This morning she flaunted them in front of Ms9. I asked Ms9 if while learning from home she wanted to paint her nails? She quickly responded that it was against school policy, only to then follow up with the realisation that she wasn’t required to wear her uniform while at home. Had me wonder about the challenges to the grammer of school because of the current pivot to online learning and the challenges this raises when students return.

Replied to Restart, Reframe or Recast – Tom Barrett’s Blog by Tom (

If our approach to transition is to recast, this is fundamentally different from restarting. We apply an intentional force to what we have. Reshaping it to a new form of our own design. Not simply restarting with what we had.

There has been so much discussion about the ‘new normal’, however where your post differs Tom is that it breaks down different ways of imagining this. Personally speaking, I think we are always in a state of flux, but instead choose to hold onto the regular habits as if they always mean the same thing. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb suggests in The Black Swans:

Reality is not Mediocristan, so we should learn to live with it.

My thoughts have been around restarting. I think that I inherit this from Will Richardson and his mantra to do things ‘different, not better‘. However, even when I think about Richardson’s work, much of it is about reframing education around learning. However, the more I think about it, such approaches as disciplined collaboration seem to be as much about recasting the materials that we already have in a new light.

I think that this will be one of those provocations that I will come back to regularly as it helps in making sense of the change at hand.

Listened Can we have economic growth without increased resource consumption? from ABC Radio National

MIT research scientist, Andrew McAfee, argues we need to rethink our assumptions about capitalism and the environment.   Economic growth, he says, has been gradually decoupling from resource consumption. So, if capitalism survives this current crisis, we may need to adapt our understanding of the way it all works.  We also hear from Annmaree O’Keeffe, from the Lowy Institute’s Pacific Islands Program, about the value of Australia’s international public broadcasting effort now that the Pacific is once again an Australian geopolitical focus.

With all this talk of automation, modern monetary theory and the challenge to neo-liberalism, it just makes me realise how much I do not know and understand.
Bookmarked How To Connect Google Sheets To A Database, Using Apps Script – Ben Collins (Ben Collins)

Google Sheets is great for quickly spinning up dashboards and analysis, but getting raw data into Sheets from databases can be tedious.

In this post we cover a few ways to get data from your SQL database into Google Sheets.

I usually drag in data from my blog via RSS, however I wonder if this might be a cleaner method.
Replied to The need for Presence not ‘Contact Hours’ (David White)

What I propose is that instead of thinking in terms of Contact Hours we should move to the concept of presence -the extent to which a member of teaching staff is present and in what mode. This could come in many forms:

  1. A fairly quick, reliable, turnaround to emailed questions
  2. Being active ‘live’ in forums or text chats (an ‘office hours’ approach to asynchronous)
  3. Lively synchronous sessions – such as, webinars with plenty of Q&A
  4. Artfully ‘flipped’ use of pre-recorded teaching videos
  5. Audio, video or text summative feedback (if it’s been created just for you then it’s always a moment of presence)
  6. …and of course face-to-face sessions in various forms.

We are highly attuned to the levels of presence and attention (we are social beings) which is why a move to online shouldn’t involve cutting staff time or staff-student ratios.

David, I have enjoyed your reflections on the pedagogical move online. I really like your point about the pivot breaking the normalisation spell.

Classic lecture and the seminar practices are still basically sacred and carry massive cultural weight in terms of representing ‘university’. When we move to the digital though, all the questions we should be asking about face-to-face suddenly appear, as the change of location breaks the normalisation spell and greater scrutiny is applied.

It makes me wonder what impact coalescent spaces have on the physical and whether such spaces are really the same again.

Liked Laura Jane Molan on Instagram: “Tonight’s online party theme: Tiger King #joeexotic #carolebaskin #killedherhusbandwhackedhim #tigerking #tiger #dressup” (Instagram)

31 Likes, 4 Comments – Laura Jane Molan (@laurajanemolan) on Instagram: “Tonight’s online party theme: Tiger King #joeexotic #carolebaskin #killedherhusbandwhackedhim…”

Bookmarked Why Some People Get Sicker Than Others (The Atlantic)

COVID-19 is proving to be a disease of the immune system. This could, in theory, be controlled.

James Hamblin discusse reasons why some people crash, while others do not. He discusses the cytokine storm caused by the the immune response and the balance required between the virus and the immune system.

At this point, the priority for doctors shifts from hoping that a person’s immune system can fight off the virus to trying to tamp down the immune response so it doesn’t kill the person or cause permanent organ damage. As Cron puts it, “If you see a cytokine storm, you have to treat it.” But treating any infection by impeding the immune system is always treacherous. It is never ideal to let up on a virus that can directly kill our cells. The challenge is striking a balance where neither the cytokine storm nor the infection runs rampant.

The problem with this balance is that it requires more care and monitoring.

Deciding on the precise method of modulating the immune response—the exact drug, dose, and timing—is ideally informed by carefully monitoring patients before they are critically ill. People at risk of a storm could be monitored closely throughout their illness, and offered treatment immediately when signs begin to show. That could mean detecting the markers in a person’s blood before the process sends her into hallucinations—before her oxygen level fell at all.

Hamblin explains that the problem being faced is not those over the age of 60 etc, but rather than immunity of the community.

The immune system is a function of the communities that brought us up and the environments with which we interact every day. Its foundation is laid by genetics and early-life exposure to the world around us—from the food we eat to the air we breathe. Its response varies on the basis of income, housing, jobs, and access to health care.

The people who get the most severely sick from COVID-19 will sometimes be unpredictable, but in many cases, they will not. They will be the same people who get sick from most every other cause. Cytokines like IL-6 can be elevated by a single night of bad sleep. Over the course of a lifetime, the effects of daily and hourly stressors accumulate. Ultimately, people who are unable to take time off of work when sick—or who don’t have a comfortable and quiet home, or who lack access to good food and clean air—are likely to bear the burden of severe disease.

I would guess that this is the concern in regards to the fear in Australia of the virus getting into indigenous communities.