Good for students; Good for us too.

Catch them doing something right. I remember this advice from when my children were small. The idea was instead of always pointing out the mistake a child was making (negative attention), I should actively watch for the actions, behaviours and attitudes I valued and give praise (positive attention). It worked.

Here’s the thing, it works with students too. In addition to the correct knowledge that we want them to have, we have skills, behaviours and attitudes we value. When we are assessing their work, we need to be looking to catching them doing something right. I was reminded of this when reading patches from the Open Faculty Patchbook. My nugget is:

Give affirming feedback, where you highlight what the student has done well. This can be a powerful means of building student confidence and engagement, and can directly reinforce good performance. ” (Awwad & Bali, 2017)

This is sage advice for us in Extend West as we seek to grow in our knowledge, skills, behaviours and attitudes. We should give and seek affirming feedback in our learning cohort. I have been considering asking for feedback on my blog and thinking about what kind of feedback would best help me learn and grow. One technique I have used with classes is Stop, Start and Continue.


The basic model is to ask for three types of feedback. A stop, something I should stop doing. A start, a new idea to incorporate, to start. And finally, a continue, something that is good and that I should continue. The continue is always the part that makes me feel better after hearing all the things I do that I should and all the things that I don’t do that I should.

For blog posts, the model could be used by asking a critical friend the following questions:

  • Stop – what is something that is detracting from my blog?
  • Start – what is something that you have seen others do, or you do yourself that could improve my blog?
  • Continue – what is something that you like about my blog that I should keep?

Structuring our request for feedback in this way can ensure that we get information that we can use and that affirms. When I think about my extending experiences, I feel a bit like the climber in the featured image, I am working my way up and even though I have some safety equipment, it still feels scary. I need advice like don’t put your foot there and use your guide rope as well as the keep going, you can do it. I need the stop, the start and the continue.

If you would like to explore how to use Stop, Start and Continue in the classroom, Boston University has a good explanation of getting feedback using this model. And here is an approach on using the model for team building from Retruim.

Featured Image Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash


Awwad, A. & Bali, M. (2017, May 25). Patch nine: Shifting your design of assessments. Retrieved from

It’s a beach party!

Dear friend,

You came to the Extend West kickoff, but I can’t find you! Maybe you don’t like water! Maybe all this talk of dipping your toes in or getting submerged is too much and a cannonball??? No way! That’s okay, just grab a towel, spread it out on the sand and watch! And when you are ready, let us know you are here.

I know you are already busy. I know this seems strange and unstructured. I thought Twitter was stupid too. But seriously, this Extending stuff is fun! It’s a beach party! Here’s how you can come out on the sand:

  1. Get or open your twitter account.
  2. In the search box, type Ontario Extend, click on Ontario Extend to go to their twitter page – click on the follow button.oext1oext2.png
  3. Go back to the search box, type #ExtendWest, click on #ExtendWest to see the posts that contain that hashtag and click on the names of some of the posters to follow them.oext3
  4. Log in once or twice a day and see what Ontario Extend and the Extenders you have followed are doing!
  5. Watch for the Daily Extend. Search the #oext tag with the number to see what others have tweeted in response. Follow them. Click the heart button if you like it. oext4
  6. When you see one that peeks your curiosity, try it. Tweet it to @OntarioExtend.
  7. Navigate over to the Extend West blogs, read a few. They are both informative and FUN!oext5

Come out from the shade, and join us on the beach! The weather is fine! And you can stay out of the water if you want to.

Featured Image: Photo by Ash Edmonds on Unsplash

Critical Friend

Two people dressed in business casual chatting outside.

“The critical friend is a powerful idea because it contains an inherent tension. Friends bring a high degree of unconditional regard. … Critics are, at first sight at least, conditional, negative and intolerant of failure. Perhaps the critical friend comes close to what might be regarded as the ‘true friendship’ – a successful marrying of unconditional support and unconditional critique.” (MacBeath and Jardine, 1998)

I generally relate the idea of a critical friend to the process of writing, probably because this was the first realm in which the need for a critical friend was introduced to me. However, a critical friend is a concept that works in many other areas including professional development. When asked through the OntarioExtend Daily Extend #oext172 to recommend a node in my network to the #ExtendWest group, I thought of my critical friend, Patrick Redko. Patrick is a fellow faculty at St. Clair College who teaches in the Interior Design program.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

A critical friend is different from a mentor or a colleague, in my opinion and frankly, hard to find. Here’s my idea of a critical friend:

A critical friend is a peer. Someone in the trenches, doing similar work, having similar challenges but far enough away from your immediate work to offer a different perspective.

A critical friend is trustworthy. Someone who will not share details of your work, struggles or failings with others in a way that could harm you.

A critical friend is genuinely interested in your success. Someone who wants you to do well and grow and will celebrate your achievements; someone who recognizes that your achievements do not diminish their own.

A critical friend is willing to challenge you. Someone who is willing to point out flaws, to question your thinking and decisions and to debate different points of view, for your betterment, for the thrill of intellectual discourse and because there is value in the process for both of you.

A critical friend is willing to invest time and energy in you. Someone who is willing to take the time to listen to you, to review your work, and to provide thoughtful feedback.

Having a critical friend and/or being a critical friend is not for the faint of heart; it is not easy to receive or give criticism. However, I highly recommend looking for one for it will be a professional relationship unlike any other.



Curation with classroom YouTube playlists

Screenshot of a YouTube Playlist
Playing a YouTube playlist will show all the videos in a collection one after the other.

YouTube playlists are personal collections of videos within a theme. You probably I have one, I do. My first was a set of music videos that I liked to listen to while doing Housework. I called it my Housework List. Chances are, your students have used YouTube and have experienced the concept of playlists that they have created or have used playlist that others have created.

Did you know that you can turn on a collaboration option for your playlists? If you do, anyone you share the list with can add videos to your playlist. They can also remove videos they have added. There are additional option to stop accepting videos to the list and to stop new collaborators from joining.

Imagine a classroom YouTube account where  you have set up a playlist for the major concepts and added one video to get things started. You could share all the playlists or share one playlist to a group of students and request that they add appropriate videos that help explain, illustrate or enhance that concept.

This can introduce the idea of curation to students using a tool they are familiar with and may be already using for learning as well as add content from different student perspectives that may help other students better understand and learn your course concepts.

Note: This post is in response to a Daily Extend challenge from Ontario Extend that I am participating in for professional development.

For more information on YouTube Playlist collaborators, please check out the YouTube help page here at

For more on Curation for learning, may I suggest “To Boost Higher-Order Thinking, Try Curation” by Jennifer Gonzalez

For more on Ontario Extend, please visit