Episode Notes – Old Fellas New Music Episode 17

Here is our playlist for last week

Durand Jones and the Indications – Morning in America

Dominique Fils-Aime – We Are Light

Stone Foundation – The Light in Us

Alejandra Ribera – Courage

Blow Monkeys – Time Storm

Horsey – Lagoon

Gabriels – Love and Hate in a Different Time

The OBGMs – All My Friends

Paul Weller – In Another Room

All of Bob’s selections are from the sampler cd which accompanies the June 2021 issue of Mojo magazine.  Paul Weller is the guest editor who picked all the tracks.

Durand Jones and the Indications – Morning in America

Durand Jones and the Indications are a multi-racial neo-soul band from Bloomington  Indiana.  Blake Rhein and Aaron Frazer, two students at Indiana University  got together with singer Durand Jones

This is a 2019 song but sounds like a early 70’s soul classic reminscent of The Isley Brothers or  Curtis Mayfield.  It’s called, “Morning in America” Neo soul at it’s finest.


Dominique Fils-AimeThree Little Words

Fils-Aime’s “Three Little Words UPDATED MAR 8, 2021 9:39PM EST – With touring off the table, Canadian musicians with anticipated new records are finding new ways to approach the traditional release cycle – PUBLISHED MAR 6, 2021 9:30AM EST” completes a trilogy of albums celebrating the history of Black-American music, while Tobi’s “Elements Vol. 1” fuses hip-hop, jazz, pop and R&B.

Montreal jazz singer Dominique Fils-Aimé has been promoting her new album, Three Little Words, the final part of a trilogy exploring the history of African-American music.
ANDREANNE GAUTHIER/HANDOUT

From the Globe and Mail


Stone Foundation – The Light in Us

Stone Foundation (featuring Laville) – The Light in Us.  From Warwickshire, and Inspired by Stax Records, the Spencer Davis Group, and the Style Council, this Warwickshire, England-based modern soul band released material at a steady rate for over a decade before Paul Weller offered to produce their 2017 album, Street Rituals. That record, and its 2018 follow-up, Everybody, Anyone, were their first albums to grace the U.K. Top 30, and paved the way for the late 2020 LP Is Love Enough?


Alejandra Ribera Courage (Single)

COURAGE – Collective Lockdown Music VideoAlejandra makes her most audacious move yet – bringing us an electronic pop creation to spread courage and strength in  uncertain times.  COURAGE May 22, 2020

Alejandra Ribera is a Canadian pop and jazz singer-songwriter, who performs material in English, French and Spanish.

Of mixed Argentine and Scottish descent,[1] Ribera was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, and has been professionally based in Montreal, Quebec.[2] She released her debut album, Navigator/Navigateher, in 2009,[3] and followed up with La Boca in 2014.[3] NPR’s Alt.Latino referred to La Boca and her voice as Alt.Latino’s favorite of 2014.[4]

Some of the proceeds from Courage will go to support Doctors Without Borders

Alejandra Ribera has written a song called ‘Courage’ to lift our spirits during these uncertain times. With the help of friends from Singapore to Switzerland – a collectively crafted “home lockdown music video” accompanies its release. 

Co-produced by Rob Wilks and Brett Shaw (Florence + the Machine, Foals), this is Alejandra’s first foray into the world of electronic pop. “I normally write quite introspective mellow stuff. When I realised I’d written a whole song about the catharsis of facing what most frightens you I thought it should sound fairly epic. I knew it would take a lot more than me and an acoustic guitar.” 

Blow Monkeys – Time Storm

The Blow Monkeys were an eighties band primarily know on this side of the pond for 1984’s “Digging Your Scene”  

The Blow Monkeys – Digging Your Scene • TopPop

The band has been close to Paul Weller since then as both groups performed in the 80’s on the anti- Margaret Thatcher Red Wedge Tour  

Horsey – Lagoon (single)

From DIY

Londoners Horsey – centred around the core duo of Jacob Read (aka DIY fave Jerkcurb) and Theo McCabeare almost certainly one of the most baffling yet brilliant new bands we’ve come across in a while.

Despite keeping a fairly low profile in terms of press and releasing only a handful of tracks online, the group have built up a firm live following, recently touring with King Krule and selling out none-too-small venues in their hometown.

Why? Because, from the glitzy gold sequinned jackets they sport onstage to the funny, noodling, dark-hearted jazz they tout, Horsey are intoxicatingly odd. Their tracks meander through chintzy piano, to shouty call and response heckles to – on occasion – something resembling a rock opera. They are basically uncategorisable and on new offering ‘Bread & Butter’ they’re doing nothing to make themselves more palatable.

This “Time Storm”from forthcoming album  

Gabriels – Love and Hate in a Different Time

Gabriels – Love and Hate in a Different Time

Gabriels is a LA based group made up of singer Jacob Lusk and producers Ari Balouzian and Ryan Hope. ‘Love and Hate in a Different Time’ is their new single.  This is anohter example fo how vintage soul music can be done in the 21st century. Gabriels explains, “Love and Hate in a Different Time is about how we appear to be losing the ability to peacefully be together in a space and express ourselves. Together. We have always endured agendas of hate, hardship and war but we have in someway always found a way to be together and put aside our differences. However in recent times with the development of the technology/disinformation it appears this is tested.”  Here is an amazing video or as they call it, “a short film”


The OBGMs – All My Friends Album – The Ends

From Exclaim Magazine!

After returning with new single “Not Again” last month, the OBGMs have lifted the curtain on a new full-length record. The Toronto punk trio will release The Ends on October 30 through Black Box Music.

“This album is about death, wanting to die, and fighting for something to live for — it’s the end of all things. I feel this is the one of the most important cross-genre albums this century,” explained vocalist/guitarist Densil McFarlane in a statement. “We are Nirvana, we are the Beatles, and the Stones. We are really changing the dimensions of which the game is played like the Steph Curry of this rock shit. We all have feelings of doubt, uncertainty, and I used to live there. I’m trying not to die there. If I’m going out, I’m going out shooting.”

Produced by Dave Schiffman and recorded at Toronto’s Dreamhouse Studios, The Ends follows the OBGMs 2017 self-titled debut. McFarlane recalled that after touring that record, “I thought me and music was over… My life wasn’t very good at the time, people around me were dying, and everything I was making sucked. I thought it was a sign that I needed to do something else.”

another great song – to Death by the OBGMs

Both Dominique Fils-Aimé and The OBGMs are on this year’s Polaris Short list.

Paul Weller – In Another Room

Paul Weller – In Another Room was is a 2019 rarity released as a 7 inch on the experimental label Ghost Box.  “Ghost Box is a record label for a group of artists exploring the misremembered musical history of a parallel world.”

 Paul Weller, a  British institution has been releasing music for almost 45 years. Whether as the leader of The Jam, Style Council or solo, Weller has had dozens of hits single and lps. In North America though,  he is mainly remembered for 1982’s “A Town Called Malice”  

Here is the Style Council Performing at Live Aid 1985.  

The Daily Telegraph said of Weller: “Apart from David Bowie, it’s hard to think of any British solo artist who’s had as varied, long-lasting and determinedly forward-looking a career. The BBC described Weller in 2007 as “one of the most revered music writers and performers of the past 30 years”

Here he is still plugging away in 2020 

Walking through a Building on Fire

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq Globe and Mail, Thursday June 17th

On June 17th, two articles were published that really struck me. A third piece, written in the winter of 2019/20 by Dr. Timothy Stanley about the removal of Sir John A. Macdonald’s statue in Victoria in 2018 acts as an important piece that links these two events. They all have to do with belonging – who belongs here and who is honoured and respected. Who feels like the ‘other’ and whose history do we understand.

It seems to me that we are going through a radical transformation right now in Canada. The first article about Mumilaaq Qaqqaq’s decision not to run again in the next election doesn’t seem to have received too much attention, but I think it is really important. She talks about the House of Parliament as being an ‘uneasy place’

It’s a place where they make laws that result in Indigenous death and result in turmoil for a lot of our communities. I feel that.

Globe and Mail June 17, 2021

There is a connection to this very brave declaration by this Inuit lawmaker and the movement to roll back the symbols of racism and genocide from our places of honour and prominence. To me, it is intolerable that a young woman who represents all of Nunavut should be stopped by security guards while in the Parliament Buildings and questioned whether she really belonged.

The statues of John A. MacDonald really do not belong – if there is a lingering spirit of the man circling around the statues and buildings with his name on it, it is this spirit who should feel like it does not belong.

The CBC article – Kingston to move Sir John A. Macdonald statue from City Park is significant because Kingston is seen as the home of Macdonald and many people feel that the removal of the statue offends their sense of community. Plans seem to be in play to move the statue to his gravesite also in Kingston. I have a better idea (not my own), but more about that later.

The article by Dr. Stanley is really important here. This statue removal he writes about took place in 2018 so we have gained a bit of perspective on what the removal means in Victoria, the community where it stood. His article Commemorating John A. Macdonald: Collective Remembering and the Structure of Settler Colonialism in British Columbia ( BC studies, no. 204, Winter 2019/20), available here, it an important read especially now.

There are so many issues circulating around Macdonald and the central role he has played developing the institution of Residential Schools in Canada. You would think that we could all get behind a rethinking of his place in our history, but we are a nation in conflict. We seem unwilling to understand the implications of colonial politicians like Macdonald.

It is not as simple as the removal of the statues of Confederate Generals from sites in the United States – even though this is not all that simple. MacDonald never made war on Canada, but you could easily say he did make war on the different Indigenous and Metis populations his government encountered.

One idea that Dr. Stanley explores is the whole notion that by removing statues of Macdonald we are somehow erasing history. This is usually said by people who really have a really poor notion of what history really is.

What we emphasize and retell changes over time. The history we look to tells us much more about the messages governments want put out there at a particular time. It has little to do with faithfully rendering a clear narrative.

The statue of former Canadian prime minister Sir John A. Macdonald is covered by a red sheet in Kingston, Ont. on June 11, 2021. On Wednesday, Kingston’s city council voted to move the monument to Cataraqui Cemetery. The city will also spend $80,000 for the transportation and installation of the statue. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

There are so many interesting ideas in Dr. Stanley’s article I encourage you to take some time to go through this. He does sum up early in the article the idea of ‘settler colonialism’ a label used to describe the opposition to challenging the traditional narrative that Macdonald, Ryerson, Cornwallis or Langevin were simply good public stewards doing the best they could with the resources at hand.

This form of colonialism exists today in Canada and is manifest in all those who are currently opposing the removal of Macdonald’s statues.

While the structure of settler colonialism is all too real for Indigenous peoples, for most settlers it is largely invisible until such time as monuments get taken away or dominant systems of representation get challenged. 

Stanley p. 2

The council debate in Kingston illustrates how far apart Indigenous voices are from those espousing a colonial settler mindset. Delegates against the removal used arguments including ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’ and that the removal of the statue was a harsh judgment of a historical figure, and that such a move would constitute “cancel culture.” (Kingston Whig Standard, June 16).

For sure there will be more of this type of talk as the statue is scheduled to come down this Friday ( June 25). It was the same in Victoria as Dr. Stanley quotes from a CBC report:

Matthew Breeden, reported as having travelled from Vancouver to protest, told CBC: “It’s part of our history I feel is being ripped right out and gutted down. I think that’s just terrible.” He continued: “They just pushed it right through – the public wasn’t allowed to have a say.”

John A. Macdonald Statue Removed from Victoria City Hall,” CBC News, 11 August 2018, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/john-a-macdonald-statue-victoria-city-hall-lisa-helps-1.4782065.  

An interesting side note, Doug Ford, then the newly elected Premier of Ontario called on Vistoria to send the statue to Ontario. In their official request they noted:

As a Father of Confederation and our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald holds a significant place in the hearts of many Canadians and should be honoured accordingly

Globe and Mail August 14, 2018

These reactions, especially about not having ‘our say’, really shows the state we are still in as a country. When we talk about ‘our’ we are still talking about colonial settler mentality. When we think again about Mumilaaq Qaqqaq , it becomes clearer how alienated she must feel being at the center of colonial power in Canada. The lack of any noticeable reaction to this story is telling. Our House of Parliament is not inclusive, it does not speak for all; it still speaks, as it did in the days of Macdonald for the colonial settler.

Sir John A. Macdonald’s grave, located in Cataraqui Cemetery in Kingston, seen here on Thursday. PHOTO BY JULIA MCKAY /The Whig-Standard

The new resting spot for the Kingston statue is supposed to be at his grave site at the Cataraqui Cemetery just outside of Kingston. There was no consultation with Indigenous groups about this, just a last-minute vote of council to move it to another place of honour.

This is not the right decision on what to do with the Macdonald statue. If we want to develop a holistic historical narrative, one where a young Inuit MP feels like she belongs, we need to do some radical retelling of the story of this land. First, when it comes to honouring people responsible for genocide, Dr. Stanley has a suggestion to pass along:

In this respect, the controversy over Macdonald shows that there is much work to be done in encouraging Canadians to come to terms with their own complicity in settler colonialisms and racisms. Here are two suggestions regarding what to do with Macdonald monuments. One comes from a man from the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan who has the unfortunate name of John A. McDonald. He suggests melting the statues down and making medals to give to residential school survivors: “He stole a piece of you, here’s a piece of him … you survived, and he didn’t, and let’s give it to every survivor of residential schools, everybody that survived the cultural genocide that he attempted.”

Stanley p.25

We are a building on fire, but many of the occupants are not smelling the smoke. We need to start with a new idea about what ‘our history’ is and at the same time stop honouring the men of power who have so much to answer for.

Old Fellas new Music – Episode 5 Notes

Bob’s Songs

Tuns – We Stand United

Amy Rigby – Tom Petty Karaoke

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – Bike Lane

Parquet Courts – Human Dimension

This is a great interview with Parquet Courts that Bob has shared, pretty interesting! Nardwuar is new to me. This is really fun – Parquet Courts get lots of albums here and Nardwuar asks some great questions including where the band would go to get beer on Friday nights.

Little Barrie – Better Call Saul

Paul’s Songs

Barr Brothers – Kompromat – suggested by Donna Clark – thanks Donna!!

Terry Presume – Did Me Wrong

Arkells + K.Flay – “You Can Get It”Anyway Gang – Big Night
Half Moon Run – Grow into Love,

Here is the link to our show on VoicEd radio – we store all the shows here on Spreaker.

The great thing for me this week is that we actually got a song suggestion from a good friend Donna Clark. I asked her to let me know why she chose the first song and this is what she wrote:

First heard The Barr Brothers music on CBC a couple of years and especially loved the driving and insistent beat of Kompromat as a great road trip song.   Could see myself driving across the prairies in a convertible, ahem, trying to adhere to the speed limit and blasting this tune.  Lyrics are pretty deep and angry and when I saw them on paper gave me food for thought.   Maybe not the best song to listen to as travel is curtailed, but you can always crank it up as your heading out to do essential shopping in your SUV!

Here are some of the lyrics Joan was talking about. Yes, dark, but a great song!

Look at the sun go behind the hill

Look at the country through a dollar bill

I can’t see the bottom of the hole that we’re trying to fill

I think we’re in love with your abuse

You got one hand on the driver’s wheel, in the other a noose

You can call it whatever you want, I say we call it a truce


My next choice was Terry Presume, Done Me Wrong.

From the Guardian This Week’s New Tracks James McMahon – this guy writes great columns every week. Many of his picks he really doesn’t like all that much, but this makes for very entertaining reading.

From Nashville via Florida comes a rap cut so gentle it’s unfeasible its creator recorded it standing up. Less a song than a daydream, here Presume (pronounced like “résumé” – remember that, his inevitable ubiquity will require it) has delivered a tune at odds with the chaos of the modern world. Lyrically he’s just wanging on about being dumped. Philosophically, he’s eating an ice-cream while the world burns.

From The Music Mermaid

Terry Presume is the voice we didn’t know we needed. Unpolished for good reason — Terry’s style is more stream-of-consciousness, not perfection — and backed by emotion, the Florida rapper’s work is a welcome addition to fellow talk-music artists, especially on his new EP, I Got Nothing To Lose, produced by Willie Breeding.


The Arkells + K.Flay

Quitting You from Campfire Chords was going to be my choice, but then I read this in their blog. You have to love a band that has their own blog. Pretty interesting reading, especially in the middle of Covid.

From their blog – 

While we were setting up the track, K.Flay shared a pointed quote about the tune: “This song is about finding your momentum, the potential energy that’s inside of you. The future doesn’t just feel unknowable – it feels impossible. We wanted this song to feel like possibility. Like the world is opening up. Like you are powerful.”

We hope this song gives you that jolt that you’re longing for these days.

March 21, 2021 – Arkells + K.Flay = “You Can Get It


The Anyway Gang was our second Canadian super band of the show. Interesting, both TUNS and The Anyway Gang have Chris Murphy from Sloan in them.

I chose – Big Night, you can see them play here in what I think is the CBC Q studio.

CBC Radio Q did an interview with the band last January. It is a great way to get a sense of how the band formed and also how much fun these guys have playing together.

CBC Radio interview with Tom Power  Posted: Jan 21

Here are some notes about the band. I love the idea that they get together to tell dad jokes!

Dave Monks – Tokyo Police Club, Sam Roberts, Menno Versteeg – Hollerando, Chris Murphy – Sloan

Last summer a few friends from some of Canada’s most notable bands – Dave Monks (Tokyo Police Club), Sam Roberts (Sam Roberts Band), Menno Versteeg (Hollerado), and Chris Murphy (Sloan) – got together to write some songs.  They mostly made dad jokes but also jammed on a bunch of 3 chord songs they all had lying around. They recorded a bunch of stuff in a few days and over the year added some ideas here and there and all of a sudden a year had past and they realized they kinda had an album so they said let’s name ourselves the first thing they thought of and release it. Anyway, they’re called Anyway Gang

Talking about the Tokyo Police Club, Bob mentions a tour video with a bunch of band members, including Brendan, Bob’s son. He sent me the video footage of a night on the road. I wonder how they were all doing the next day 😃


One last note for this week. Bob has mentioned Zunior several times, so it seemed like a good idea to add some information about them here. Here is their website.

They are also on Twitter here

That’s all for this week – our show now starts at 7:45 so that we can get all the music in. You can hear us LIVE next week on the VoicEd Radio Stream.

Climbing for Kids Again!

Hi everyone!
It has been a year since I have been in contact with you. COVID has put a break on our trips and our fundraising, but Christie Lake Kids continues to offer to program for kids.

CLK on Zoom over the past year

Last summer their wonderful camp was closed down, but they offered kids a virtual camp and delivered materials and activities directly to the doors of the virtual camp.

this incredible program was funded in part by your donations – kids received a box of activities for a week of activities last summer

All of you who have taken the time to donate have helped fund these programs. The programs keep running so we need to keep climbing!!


From CLK staffer Kim Banks:

In 2020 – you kept us stable and operational – you ensured that we could develop a hybrid of programming both virtual and eventually back in person in small groups in the Fall of 2020.  Thanks to Climb for Kids- Mt. Kilimanjaro, even though the trek didn’t happen, your funding ensured that we could source, box and deliver packages directly to families for virtual programming as well as purchase new equipment for a skills – and – drills program in person.

Since 2018, so many of you have been loyal supporters of our fundraising initiatives for Christie Lake Kids – Climb for Kids. You have turned up at our community fundraisers, contributed and bought from the silent auctions, donated to Canada Helps and, last year, sponsored our climbing hundreds of stairs through Step up for Kids – when the pandemic stopped our travelling and required some innovative and creative endeavours to continue to support Christie Lake Kids. Right now – we still are not congregating, nor climbing mountains, but we are still committed to Christie Lake Kids.


Although grounded again in 2021, we are not still. The growing needs of Ottawa families and kids are never still, and the pandemic has even further deepened the divide between children who can access recreation and supportive programs and those who cannot.  Next week, on Saturday, April 24th, CLK is supporting another STEP up for KIDS event. Funds raised through participation and/or sponsoring others/donations will help CLK to keep connecting with, and supporting kids as we head into the spring and summer.
Please consider participating in STEP up for KIDS – walking, climbing, playing – and/or sponsoring me or Heather Swail through our STEP up for KIDS donor page. Heather and I are committing to climbing stairs for one hour, maybe with some small breaks!

https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/christie-lake-climb-for-kids-kilimanjaro-2020-c-12/

https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/christie-lake-climb-for-kids-kilimanjaro-2020-ch-4/


And we will be climbing together somewhere in 2022 – our destination is not yet set, but we are committed to putting on another adventure that you are all welcome to join!


Thanks very much for your past support and we hope you can participate in some way next Saturday!


Paul McGuire

Covid Journal # 7 – Returning to school is risky

These graphs put out by science teacher and biostatistician, Ryan Imgrund are something I am going to watch closely over the next month.

‘On August 2, in Ottawa there is a 4.8% chance you’ll encounter an individual who can transmit COVID-19 in a group of 27.’

This is actually a statement put out on Ryan Imgrund’s Twitter feed. You can fill in the blanks for your region if you would like. How’s it going for you?

What this means should startle everyone. There is a significant risk of COVID-19 spreading in classrooms this fall. There is no hard cap for kindergarten classes or grades 4-8. Kindergarten classes can still be as high as 29 students, classes in grades 1-3 are capped at 23 (90% of classes must have 20 or fewer students).

From Ontario Families for Public Education

The only meaningful caps that exist right now are in grades 9 – 12 where students will attend in groups of 15.

Not to sound overly critical, but I am not sure how this is going to work.

Today, Sunday, August 2 – Australia declares a state of disaster in Victoria and imposes curfew in Melbourne  

Great Britain and Spain are beginning lockdowns again in various regions.

In the New York Times – After a brief reprieve, coronavirus charges back in US

Again the New York Times – A school reopened. It had to quarantine students within hours.

I am going to stop at four, but I could add many more stories. My point here is to state the obvious, this virus is not under control. Reopening is fraught with danger and in many cases leads to more outbreaks.

The great thing about daily statistics is that we can track the daily spread of the virus against significant changes in behaviour.

While we all should be concerned as Minister Lecce is for the emotional well-being of students, is sending them back into a very risky environment the best way to do this?

Should we not be trying to reimagine what school could look like if we were not so tied to an industrial era school model? We could be asking – what was so good about how we did things in the past? What could we do better? Why are we so tied to tradition at the risk of our student’s and teacher’s health?

Schools support the economy, there is no question about that. When kids are in school people can go back to work. If we truly were concerned about the well-being of staff and students we would be looking closely at the statistics and we would be using this time to reimagine school.

Are the people in charge of our school systems motivated to do this? People in senior positions traditionally want to protect the status quo. It is in their self-interest to do this. There is nothing amazing in this – all large corporations act in the same manner.

But what should we be doing?

  • Should any grouping of students be above 15?

  • Could we be using facilities like community and health centers to spread out our teachers and students?

  • Could we develop more robust video conferencing tools to make the online experience more meaningful (is there life after Zoom??)

  • Is five days a week, 6 hours a day really meaningful? Can we develop a community-based model for education that makes parents active partners?

 

We do ask these questions in countless blog posts and podcasts, but are these questions ever taken seriously? If not now, when? How tied are we really to an old model that really doesn’t work well for many kids?

I really want to see what happens in the next 30 days. Will there be meaningful debate about what education in Ontario will look like this year? Do we realize that we are in this for the long haul? There is no returning to school until there is a vaccine.

I will be working with teacher candidates in first and second year so I will certainly have lots of opportunities to see how we protect our students and staff. I will continue to look at the stats – we are very fortunate to have this daily reminder about what we are heading into.

Will we invest in real change or will we just hope for the best?

Are we willing to lose a bit of control?

A few days ago Dean Shareski came out with an interesting post that got me thinking (it’s time I got back into writing something). Dean has a great sense of humour so I think the post is a little tongue in cheek – I Don’t Think I’m an EdTech Guy Anymore.

In the article, he wonders whether what he once saw as edtech is really technical anymore.

Using digital media to create and consume, expanding classrooms to connect with experts and other learners, connecting assessment to technology, effectively using mobile devices as well as exploring the growing interest in digital citizenship were all topics and areas I spent time teaching and supporting. Today those topics, while still of interest do not have the same “newness” that we associate when with think of technology.

I can agree with this. The things that he writes about as now being technology leave me a little cold. His list includes:

  • Augmented and Virtual Reality
  • 3D Printing
  • Coding (arguably coding has been around for a long time but has become a newly sought after skill/experience)
  • ESports
  • BlockChain (data security)

I remember bringing some of this technology into schools and being pretty excited about the possibilities of makerspaces and tools to start understanding how coding works. Now, while I am still (more than ever) interested and engaged in teaching and writing about education, I don’t seem to get as excited about some of this technology.

I have to ask here, what is seen as educational technology these days? In another part of the article, Dean references an ISTE article on the 9 hottest topics in Edtech. The list includes professional learning vs. professional development and student-centered learning as two of the nine.

My question is – are these really edtech trends? Am I off base or is the trend towards more individualized learning (two of the edtech trends) simply a matter of more intelligent pedagogy or must it be linked up to technology?

Earlier this week I observed a student teacher going through a lesson with some grade 9 students. The lesson did have technology – there were Youtube videos and digital media involved in the presentation. What was missing was any level of engagement with the students. The information was conveyed using a very traditional lecture style, the students were the passive receptors of the information.

We know enough about education now that this mode for delivering information is outdated. It is unnecessary and it accomplishes little. Technology doesn’t accomplish all that much if all the strings are held on to by the teacher. The same goes for professional learning. When we bring in the sage from the school board to enrich the lives of our teachers, no matter what technology they are bringing in they are missing the point.

Maybe what we need to be focusing in on is not so much the tech we have at our fingertips but the democratization of education – maybe what we need to do is lose some of the control over information and allow our teachers and students explore more and use their own tools to find out what matters.

Writing is a funny thing. I really meant to write about the importance of digital media in education and how it really is (in my opinion) revolutionizing teaching, but I guess that will have to wait.

there is a lot to write about when it comes to the use of digital media and the teaching of history – just getting started!

Whatever the edtech – AR, VR, 3D printing, coding etc, it really doesn’t matter if we do not understand the basic fact that we need to lose control. We need to let our teachers know that the sage on the stage is not a valuable way to get students excited about learning. We have to stop talking at our teachers in dreary PD sessions and we really need to model an approach that allows for inquiry and discovery in the classroom.

What I am seeing is that there is little excuse for not doing this. We now are able to bring almost anything into the classroom. I was astounded last fall when I was giving a course on teaching methods in history how much amazing primary material is now out there for students to examine. And you don’t need a classroom full of computers to actively engage your students.

We know better now. Students need to get their hands dirty and get involved in their own learning.

Why should we hold onto all the keys to the knowledge chest? Why not open it up and let our students and teachers discover what is out there? They are bound to find out more than we could imagine.

More on the treasure of digital media later. The world is unfolding in your classroom – if you are willing to lose a bit of control!

History in the Making – Creating Digital History Techbooks

So, I have to say I have had lots of fun this fall.

Out of nowhere, I was offered a chance to teach a history teaching methods course at the University of Ottawa. For ten weeks I got to talk about one of the things I really love – the study of history. It has been many many years since I actually taught history and fortunately, the methodology for the teaching of history has changed dramatically since I taught the subject.

The last assignment we worked on was called History in the Making. I had this idea that it would be really cool for students to develop a digital textbook along the lines of what Discovery Education has created for math, science and social studies.

I have done lots of work on Discovery Education’s Science Techbook and I know it is an amazing learning tool. While there is a social studies techbook, it doesn’t have the features of the science version and there is no Canadian version.

The digital techbooks are incredibly versatile learning tools, but I don’t really know any good examples outside of the Discovery Education material. So, why not create our own?

We just did a gallery walk of the completed Canadian History techbooks and I have to say they were amazing. We ran out of time in the ten weeks to present the techbooks individually, so one of the students had the brilliant idea of doing them all in one day in the form of a gallery walk.

the basic idea

I really believe that this is the future of educational publishing (in my humble opinion!). As more and better technology becomes standard in the classroom, we will begin to see the value in having excellent, properly curated digital resources to support students and teachers.

The key word here is curated resources. It is simply not good enough to expect educators to Google topics for the classroom without making sure the chosen sources are reliable and accurate. Teachers don’t have the time to do this themselves, but relying on a standard textbook is (again), in my opinion too limiting. Even in a field like history, perspectives and viewpoints change on a regular basis. What was significant a few years ago may not be relevant today.

Screenshot of one of the digital techbook assignments – Canada and the Cold War

I think that new teachers will be faced with a different reality from teachers in the past. As we move away from reliance on textbooks, teachers will have to become their own publishers. They will need to put together their own collections of documentary evidence, essential questions and credible sources to engage and inform their students. With so much material out there this will become a formidable challenge.

The selection of topics chosen by the class is a response to this challenge. There is an amazing and incredibly relevant techbook on the Oka Crisis. There is another one – Women and the War Effort that ties Historical Thinking Concepts – a relatively new idea – to curriculum focusing on the contribution of women to the war. There is so much more!

All of the techbooks have links to curriculum and many have additional resources for teachers. This is important. If we are going to create excellent curated resources for teachers, we need to make sure they are linked to relevant curriculum. If we don’t, no one will see them as credible. We also have to make sure the resources include ideas for interactive activities and opportunities for students to create their own content.

Cover page – Women and the War digital techbook

So, all to say, our last class was an exciting one. Students presented to other students what they had created and then the techbooks were shared with me. I have spent the last few days reading through them and I really think that this is important work that needs to be shared out and developed.

students presenting during our gallery walk

I have created a Google Doc here that contains a summary of all the history techbooks that have been shared with me. The class has editing privileges so that they can go in and add to my summary. The reality is they probably won’t be doing much of this in the next few weeks as they are all back in the classroom until Christmas.

However – they have done some great creative work that needs to be shared. This work deserves an audience and I hope people, especially history teachers will take a look and give us all some helpful advice on where to go with this project.

Thanks to all the students in PED 3183. It was great learning with all of you. Here is me hoping that many will benefit from all of your creations! I leave you with one last activity from the Oka Crisis techbook.

Take a moment to consider the image (above) and consider the following:

  • What do you notice about this image?
  • What questions do you have about this image?

Jot down your answers individually, then pair up with a classmate to share your ideas.

Activity: Engaging with Primary Sources Padlet

Click anywhere on the image (Padlet link) below to type your thoughts and ideas regarding the iconic image above. Your response will appear pending approval.

Made with Padlet

Make it a Story – Climb for Kids Kilimanjaro

So yesterday I got this encouraging note from Allan Neal of CBC Ottawa.

This was in response to my tweet about wanting to get some media coverage for Climb for Kids – a pretty difficult thing to do in the very crowded stage of radio and television coverage. I do agree, telling the story is what it is all about. Having a hook that will get people’s attention is a challenge, when there are so many stories out there in our city.

Elia Saikaly, an Ottawa native shot this video of the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro using a drone – this is where we plan to be in early August 2020

So, here we go. Here are some of the stories:

  • in 2017, middle -age, freshly retired and very tired principal climbs Mount Kilimanjaro with an organization that has raised over $1 Million for Ottawa organizations;
  • family decides – in collaboration with Christie Lake Kids Foundation (CLK) – to initiate Climb for Kids combining philanthropy with travel adventures and personal challenges;
  • over $67,000 is raised in two years;
  • 17 climbers ranging in age from 21 to 72 trek Apu Ausangate (Rainbow Mountains) in Peru reaching heights of 5200 metres; the next year, 14 trekkers trek 170 km around the Mont Blanc Massif, walking for 11 days through difficult terrain and heatwaves;
  • kids living across Ottawa, ranging in age from 8 – 16 years, benefit directly from the fundraising in sports and STEM programs;
  • local bands, businesses and individuals contribute time and money to Climb for Kids, including “Barry and the Blasters”;
  • in 2019, a growing group of new and old trekkers prepare for the climb to the Roof of Africa, July 2020.

The full story we wrote for CBC can be found here.

There are so many ways to start a story like this. From Paul’s perspective, he comes at this from a few angles. First, the climbing. “I am 61 years old and I fell in love with trekking in 2017 when I joined a group of 31 trekkers who climbed to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise money for programs for local charitable organizations here in Ottawa. The climbing was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I was able to raise over $9,000 for local programs. “

The following year, my partner, Heather Swail, and I decided to develop our own program so we could channel money and support to Christie Lake Kids (CLK) – an organization here in Ottawa that supports children in low-income families across the city. CLK has been and continues to be an important part of our own family story.

We know Christie Lake Kids through many perspectives: all three of our own kids have worked at the camp; Our eldest, Liam, currently is the associate director of the organization; Heather and I have taught and worked with many of the CLK kids who attend recreation programs and summer camp. We know firsthand what a difference caring adults and skill-building programs make to kids and their families.

Poverty and bad luck are situational: they should not define and restrict opportunities for kids. Through truly transformative, recreation programs – e.g., hockey, music lessons, cooking, leadership programs, they are doing something unique – day by day, trying to break the cycle of poverty firmly entrenched here in Ottawa and empower children to change the direction of their lives.

Because Christie Lake Kids is really a social justice venture we are propelled to recruit people every year to bring them trekking. We help them with their training, we pick the routes and we put on a series of great fundraising parties throughout the year.

Our year I team at our first fundraiser at Fatboys in the Market

We know we are going in the right direction, every year we pick up new partners and friends who are helping this to become a really dynamic project here in Ottawa.

Our group members really make this special. We have some people who have been with us for three years now, others join us for a year but continue to support us and spread the news. Our group members support each other and learn to work together, not only to train but to raise money. In the first two years of Climb for Kids, we have raised close to $60,000. This year, we plan to raise an additional $40,000.

Here is a short video from Tara Howlett, one of our trekkers in Peru – Year I of Climb for Kids

Our climbers are great. The video above was taken by Tara Howlett, one of the trekkers who joined us in Year I. Tara took many more videos like this during the five-day high altitude trek in the Ausangate Range in Peru. Her journal became the basis for the film we created about the first year journey.

On the Year II trek around the Mont Blanc Massif, another one of our climbers, Jodie Beyer actually broke her foot on the fourth day of a twelve-day trek. She kept on trekking in incredibly hot and dry conditions and only realized she had broken her foot when she returned to Canada.

These treks are really hard. Our first trek in Peru was over 4800 m for five days. Many suffered through the cold and high altitude, but everybody made it. Last summer, we trekked over 170 km through France, Switzerland and Italy, camping the whole way. It was simply beautiful but many times it was also a real struggle.

A video
paul took at the top of the Col de Tricot – one of the hardest climbs we did on the TMB

So this year we are taking on Mt. Kilimanjaro. This will be another great challenge. Kilimanjaro is very hard for a regular trekker. It is a long seven to eight-day trek, all at high altitude. We will climb through five ecological zones. While we start in the rain forest, by summit day we are living in arctic tundra. The summit is at 5,895 metres (19,341 ft) and as we climb altitude sickness becomes a real concern for everyone.

Our group in 2017 – scrambling up the Barranco Wall

I know this will be a very challenging climb and we are hoping to bring lots of trekkers with us. This is not for everyone and the process of recruiting people to take on the trek is a very slow one – one that drives me a little crazy! Right now we have 13 climbers and we would love to eventually have 20 people on the journey. We want to make it to $40,000 this year so we can reach the $100,000 mark for Christie Lake Kids.

In all of this there is lots of adversity, but maybe this is just a reflection of the challenges many of the kids CLK supports face every day. There needs to be change, there needs to be hope – this is why we do this – Communities Move Mountains.

Paul McGuire, Heather Swail Ottawa, November 2019

Climb for Kids Year II TMB

Launching Climb for Kids Kilimanjaro for 2020

Great video short by Elia Saikaly of Mt. Kilimanjaro

Climb for Kids 2020 has launched!

We met on Friday to meet people interested in coming with us to Mt. Kilimanjaro. This is part of the process we need to go through to attract a group of people to make the commitment to train, fundraise then climb the highest free-standing mountain in the world.

We have such great support from Tony Perdomo of Exodus Travels and Monique Perras of Club Aventure here in Ottawa. It was a great presentation and we had lots of people out, many of them new to us. This is the key thing for us right now. If we want to really launch the Climb for Kids project into the future, we need to expand our base and attract people who are outside our own social networks.

So, now again we wait to see if the great people we met for the first time will sign on for the big adventure.

We are still waiting to raise the profile of this project beyond the scope of our social media posts. We can’t make it on local radio, no matter what we do. Planning a big fundraising trip to the roof of Africa just doesn’t make it. Even if it did, would it really make any difference? I don’t know, I think the personal contacts really make all the difference.

So we continue to try different things all the time. In two weeks, Heather and I will be heading off to a big gala to promote the trip. We are thinking of dressing up as climbers – trekking poles and gators included just to attract the attention of the crowd.

You never know who is out there looking for a new adventure, looking to help out in unique ways.

One thing I have been doing is putting out an Instagram post every few days. I am using the Flickr photos we took in 2017, the first time I climbed Kilimanjaro. I am not sure these are a good promotion, but it is fun to put these photos out there.

Soon we will have Tony’s presentation out there for people who couldn’t make it to the launch. I may also make another video short – really short – to add to the material we have out there.

Our shortest promotion video

The creation of new videos and a new ESRI Story Map are really creative ventures and there is something new to try almost every day. This is such a great story to tell and there are soo many ways to do this.

Then you get the phone call or email from someone who wants to join up. We are now in that zone where the new people who join up will come outside the groups we have already travelled with.

The big question here is, what will be the social media post, photo, email or video that brings in that new person? What word of mouth message will introduce us to someone else?

Our ESRI Story Map – a great way to collect all your media in one place.

So, we will keep posting and sharing and spreading the word. We will make it to a bigger group – hopefully 20 climbers!

Maybe this will be you??

The Podcast Broadcast – a Week of Rich Listening and Learning

 

It has been a while since I did one of these posts, but time is available right now, so I am excited to jump right back in with a review of a few new podcasts – all available on VoicEd Radio.

There is no real theme this week, just podcasts that I find interesting as I scroll through the new material that gets uploaded daily to our Radio.co site. I will add them all to a playlist that I will put up on VoicEd Radio today – Friday, March 29th.

This week, we are starting off with a great student podcast – Books R Us.

Books R Us is a 6th-grade student podcast featuring new books that others will want to read. These students are from Hopewell Elementary School in Bettendorf, IA and believe in the power of sharing great books with others to help foster A Culture of Readers. Each podcast reviews a new book and features a contest for a book.

The students are terrific and I think this would be a great project for other classes to get involved in. It is obvious that the students and their teachers have worked very hard to make this a smooth production. You can hear a part of an episode on The Third Mushroom here:

I don’t know much about this series, but this really animated conversation about books and authors that seems to have been going on for several years. Really well laid out book reviews by these students. No hesitation, full of life and energy!

 

The second podcast I listened to this week is Chris Nesi’s House of Edtech. As always, Chris talks about a number of subjects involving education technology. The segment that drew my attention was about online learning. Certainly, people in Ontario could benefit from listening to this right now. The conclusion of this discussion is important – studies show that students do not do as well in online learning situations. Chris Nesi is a very thoughtful educator and his summary of the findings of this study are worth listening to. The main point that I find important at this time in Ontario are the findings of an academic study on online learning. Basically, students do not like to learn exclusively online and they tend to do poorly. You can listen to the clip here.

Nesi includes the article in his show notes here.

Again, the conclusion in the report regarding online learning is important in the current Ontario context:

Though online learning courses have exploded in popularity over the last decade, we found that relative to courses with some degree of face-to-face teaching, students taking online-only courses may experience negative learning outcomes.

Will technology transform education for the better? (Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab)

A few hours of listening produces lots of gems. Next, I listened to Teaching Tales with elementary principal Brent Coley. This is one of those podcasts you can dip into at any point. If it fits any genre, this would be one of those ‘around the staffroom’ conversations, this time between two elementary principals. When I saw the title – Overcoming Fear in the Classroom – I thought they would be discussing students and their fear. I quickly realized that they were discussing teacher fear in the classroom.

Brent’s guest is Craig Badura – his blog, A Teacher, Coach and Dad can be found here.

 

                        Craig Badura

This is a great free-ranging conversation on how to deal with failure in the classroom. Teachers don’t like to fail no matter what they say about the importance of failure. Risk taking is hard to do, especially when you are in front of a classroom full of kids. What makes all the difference is an understanding administrator who makes the effort to support teachers as they experiment with new ideas. I am convinced that one of the greatest engines for innovation in education would be supportive principals like these two who are clearly all about serving others.

Failure is a lot easier if you have people like Brent Coley and Craig Badura working with you. What a great conversation about enabling teachers and kids and getting out of the way. New principals really need to listen to this podcast. Important point – never focus on what went wrong – focus instead on the relationship you are developing with a fellow educator. To make mistakes is a human quality.

The next podcast features two of my favourite broadcasters, Derek Rhodenizer and Jon Harper. For this one, Derek is the host, but he mentions that he has already been on Jon’s – I will have to go back and listen to that one for sure. The show is Beyond the Staff Room and it is always great.

Again, these podcasts are done by school administrators and I am partial to these being a former administrator. Listening to stories of administrators fail is very instructive and it would be great to hear more of this. Failure is not only for teachers and students but administrators can also fail too and we would all be the wiser if we heard more about their stories of failure.

Wouldn’t it be great to hear the failure stories of a superintendent? Would they ever do that? Would our system be a little more humane if they admitted failure from time to time? I think that might be a topic for another post. But listening to Jon and Derek is instructive, and I would encourage you to listen to the entire broadcast.

Just like Brent Coley’s podcast, Beyond The Class Room is another great conversation around the table. This makes lots of sense, Derek is someone who really enjoys connecting to others and he is a wonderful conversationalist. Taking time for conversation seems to be a lost art, but people like Derek and Jon are keeping it alive. Like Brent Coley’s broadcast, you can basically pick a clip anywhere from the podcast and it will be interesting. It is a conversation about failure and interestingly it is very empowering because they do a great job normalizing failure. Again, this is a lesson more educators need to learn, especially those in senior positions in our school boards!

Here’s the clip:

In this clip, Jon uses a personal story – one that we could all tell – about misjudging a situation. It is reflective and honest. Not included here is Derek’s return which is another story that fits well into the title of Jon Harper’s show My Bad. I don’t include this clip here, but Derek’s show is easy to find on VoicEd Radio and I really suggest you take a listen, especially if you are in a leadership position or want to be someday. Being a good leader means being incredibly humble. Sadly, this is not something we see very much in our leaders these days.

This is all that I will write about these podcasts – go out and give them a full listen – you will learn lots!