March 31, 2020

In times of uncertainty, it can help to focus on what you can do. I had "organized" my homefront (which changes minute to minute with three girls in Grades 4-10 in the  house), and was waiting to hear from our province, board and school about next steps. While wondering about what was to come and how to embark into the unknown, there were some things that I realized I could be doing to mitigate this new reality for myself and for others. All over the Twittersphere, teachers were freaking out. In parts of the US and Canada, they had already implemented e-learning, though I question the term and prefer to call it e-teaching. Whatever was to come, I knew that it was something we should be exploring.

When we first started OnEdMentors Connect, which evolved to become OEMConnect and now falls under the umbrella of The Mentore...

March 24, 2020

Seeing the video of my TEDxKicthenerEd Talk posted on felt triumphant. The most obvious reason that it felt so epic was that I fulfilled a dream. Having an idea worth spreading and actually getting to share it was something I had hoped I would get to do for quite some time. Also, it was a chapter in my personal and professional story that I was given the time, place and space to tell and to keep sharing.

I fell in love with TED from the first talk, and it quickly became part of my learning and teaching resources. My first TED Talk was Do Schools Kill Creativity? by Sir Ken Robinson. It was a revelation. Then, I had switched schools and was working with a Curriculum Coach who became my mentor and friend. Ricki Wortzman showed me many inspiring TED talks. Then, I started using TED videos in my classroom as catalys...

March 17, 2020

Reading Buddies is cool, but it can be so much more. Over the last 22 years, I have facilitated many forms of Buddies: Recess Buddies, Lunch Buddies, Literacy Buddies, Senior Citizen Buddies and, of course, Reading Buddies. Now, I try to call it Buddies because the term leaves so many more possibilities open. When I am teaching an older Grade (which is usually how it goes down), I find a partner teacher in a younger grade and begin working together to use the Buddies experience to help build relationships, deepen learning experiences while creating culture and community. 

One of my most impactful Buddy partners was Rhonda Schlanger, a former Grade 1 teacher. She had been using this cool strategy by Lisa Mattes (not sure if it’s her strategy or just her graphics) for teaching decoding skills, and...

March 6, 2020

This post was also published on Medium.

So often, when looking at oneself, the prefixes “intro” or “in” are used, such as introspection or looking inward, but what if you are interested in the whole self. Shouldn't self-examination look in and around? If that’s true, then why aren’t we using a different term? How can we take a more holistic approach to the lens through which we notice, describe, discover and communicate who we are? How can we look in all directions when we are learning in school? Why don't we spend more time facing selfward?

Self discovery is something I believe that school experiences should foster. What is the point of knowing more about that past and the present of our world if you can’t understand your place in it? So often, students have to share personal things about themselves that are more tell t...

March 2, 2020

This is the second year that I have facilitated the Healthy Start BOB project in my Grade 8 Homeroom class and the third year since its inception. You can read more about last’s year’s experience here. This is something I strategically initiate in January because  a new year brings new ideas, new goals ,and new attempts at change. Also, it really makes an impact on my students for several reasons. The project centres around students have to choose something they want to stop or start doing that will contribute to their positive mental, physical, social-emotional or spiritual well being. I got the idea when planning a Health unit. Here is an excerpt from the Healthy Start outline that took  from the Ontario Health Curriculum. “Maintaining good mental health and emotional well-being involves balancing...

February 5, 2020

I had always taught full time, so when I left my tenured job and started again from zero at the board, it was it was interesting to get used to being a part time teacher. Last year, I started to get really busy. I couldn’t believe how easily I became a person who could work 24/7. I was loving every single thing I was doing, and I just wanted to do more of it. 

Things were really falling into place in my professional life. I got a permanent job teaching part time in York Region, with a Grade 8 Homeroom class for half of the day, and I had time to continue developing Building Outside the Blocks as the umbrella for all of the other work that I was doing and wanted to do including: consulting, project managing, writing, presenting, podcasting, building OEMConnect with Leigh Cassell (now under The Mentoree), doing small...

January 28, 2020

Following 15 years teaching elementary and middle school in the US, Peru, Malaysia, and China, Steve Sostak now specializes in working with schools, teachers, and students to integrate elements of the three Inspire Citizens' Impact Frameworks. He guides educators towards embedding compassionate empathy, deep thinking, and global and intercultural competence into relevant, action-driven learning outcomes linked to disciplinary, technology, and literacy standards. Steve facilitates best-practices in professional learning centered on the Global Impact School Self-Study: holistic, long-term, personalized, capacity-building experiences and reflections for administrative teams and preK-12 teachers and students.As a global TeachSDGs ambassador, Steve is committed to human and environmentally-centered learning that empowers st...

January 21, 2020

Glen Irvin Flores has been in education for over 20 years, and he currently works as an instructional coach in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. Glen was previously a Spanish teacher. Glen is well known by the Schoology community as a Gamification expert, Schoology Ambassador, and he was the 2016-2017 Schoology Educator of the Year. He is an avid gamer with a passion for gamification, playful learning and game-based learning. As a teacher his classroom was a gamified, quest-based, mastery learning environment where students were given the time and opportunity to succeed. Glen is the co-host of OnEducation Podcast whose goal is to have honest conversations about teachers, teaching and everything in between. 

Glen is the co-host of the OnEducation Podcast with Mike Washburn. That is how I was introduced to Glen as Mike was on this...

January 20, 2020


It all began with the OnEdMentors podcast, so it made sense to share and celebrate where we started and where we’re going on the 3rd Anniversary Radiothon on voicEd Radio. Having this special edition of OnEdMentors was a great way to transition OnEdMentors Connect under the umbrella of The Mentoree. You can listen to the audio from the episode when Leigh and I welcomed Helen DeWaard, Bernadette Smith and Greg Sykes to the panel. 

Some highlights from the Special Radiothon episode of OnEdMentors Featuring the Team Behind The Mentoree:

  • The origin story of OEMConnect

  • Leigh and dHL

  • How Helen DeWaard began as a critical friend to our collaborative inquiry and then became so integral to our growth by partnering with us through Lakehead University, first on her syllabus and now help us to become o...

January 14, 2020

Jeff Kubiak is the principal of Nelda Mundy Elementary School. He taught for ten years as an elementary school teacher in grades 4, 5, and 6 and has seven years of administrative experience. Jeff strives to connect with students by bringing real world experiences to them, getting to know their names, engaging in lessons and play, and becoming a part of the learning process with them. He's always looked at education from a different lens: from someone who hated and struggled with school. Jeff vows to always do his best to help increase opportunities for all students to feel heard, noticed, celebrated, challenged and safe. There is not a day that goes by that he is not looking ahead to improve teacher pedagogy, student engagement and digital access for all. 

Jeff works hard to push back against the old model of "Industria...

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    Noa Daniel, MEd
    Teacher, Consultant, Coach and Chief Building Office at  
    Building Outside the Blocks
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