Posts Tagged With: connect

Need Ideas? Just Ask.

My grade 1-3 teachers have been planning for next year and are looking for creative and engaging ways to build a literacy intervention block into the daily schedule. Language Arts and Math would be scheduled every morning and then one teacher would be freed up to work with students that are just not up to par with reading, writing and comprehension. I’m quite impressed with their innovative thinking because in order to make this plan work the others will need to have substantially larger class sizes for Social, Science and other non-core subjects. The literacy intervention teacher would work with multi-grade groups of struggling students throughout the afternoon. In a school where many students find themselves below an acceptable literacy level, I like their thinking.

So when the teachers approached me, asking if I would consult with my PLN for high yield strategies that could be used for this intervention block, I was more than happy to oblige. I sent this Tweet out the next day:

My Tweet

My Twitter PLN, which includes over 3500 followers, has become one of the most important sounding boards in my professional life. By including only individuals who share the same passion for education, I am always learning new things and having my thinking challenged and stretched. Just look at the responses I received from this Tweet.

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Help yourself if there is anything here you can use. ūüôā

Categories: 21st Century Learning, Capacity Building | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Try A Mystery Skype. Here’s Why.

If you’ve never tried a Mystery Skype with your class, you should. It’s a highly¬†engaging way to build important competencies in your students. A Mystery Skype is just a simple guessing game at first sight, but it’s really so much more. Two classrooms arrange to connect with each other using Skype, and then take turns asking yes/no questions to try to¬†discover each other‚Äôs exact location. It‚Äôs a great way to make an initial connection that¬†may lead to further collaborative learning projects. Our students have participated in several Mystery Skypes this year, all of which¬†have been easily arranged¬†through my Twitter PLN. Here’s one from last month:


Take a look at¬†the jobs students¬†take on¬†during a Mystery Skype. Then look at the competencies they are building and ask yourself why you¬†shouldn’t give this a try.¬†

Greeters say hello and share cool facts about the class without giving away the location. (Leadership, Social Awareness, Cultural Awareness, Global Awareness, Communication, Self-Direction)

Question Askers ask the questions and are the voice of the classroom. (Collaboration, Leadership, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Decision Making, Social Awareness, Global Awareness, Creativity, Cultural Awareness, Communication, Self-Direction)

Question Answerers answer the questions after consulting with others. (Collaboration, Leadership, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Decision Making, Social Awareness, Global Awareness, Cultural Awareness, Communication, Self-Direction)

Think Tank sits in a group and figures out the clues based on the information they receive. (Collaboration, Leadership, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Decision Making, Creativity and Innovation, Communication, Digital Literacy, Self-Direction)

Google Mappers use Google maps to piece together clues and narrow down the location. (Collaboration, Leadership, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Decision Making, Creativity and Innovation, Global Awareness, Communication, Digital Literacy, Self-Direction)

Atlas Mappers use atlases to assist the Google mappers. (Collaboration, Leadership, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Decision Making, Creativity and Innovation, Global Awareness, Communication, Self-Direction)

Clue Keepers work closely with askers and answerers to help guide them in developing questions. (Collaboration, Leadership, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Decision Making, Creativity and Innovation, Global Awareness, Communication, Self-Direction)

Runners run from group to group relaying important information. (Collaboration, Leadership, Decision Making, Social Awareness, Global Awareness, Communication, Self-Direction)

Photographers take pictures during the call to share at a later date. (Leadership, Decision Making, Creativity and Innovation, Communication, Digital Literacy, Self-Direction)

Tweeters share real-time play-by-play of the event on a class Twitter account. (Leadership, Critical Thinking, Decision Making, Creativity and Innovation, Social Awareness, Global Awareness, Cultural Awareness, Communication, Digital Literacy, Self-Direction)

Videographers take video during the call to share at a later date. (Leadership, Decision Making, Creativity and Innovation, Communication, Digital Literacy, Self-Direction)

Entertainers share jokes, songs, etc. during a lull in the action. (Collaboration, Leadership, Critical Thinking, Decision Making, Creativity and Innovation, Social Awareness, Global Awareness, Cultural Awareness, Communication, Self-Direction)

Closers end the call in a nice manner after one class has guessed the location of the other. (Leadership, Decision Making, Creativity and Innovation, Social Awareness, Global Awareness, Cultural Awareness, Communication, Self-Direction)


Enough said.

Categories: 21st Century Competencies, 21st Century Learning, Community Engagement, Inclusive Education | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Listen To Me – I Can Read

audioboo_logo[1]We’ve had the Audioboo App on our school iPads for a while now. It’s a great podcasting tool because you can easily record student’s voices and the recording automatically uploads to the Audioboo website where you can manage all your “Boos” and embed them wherever you want. If you don’t have iPads, you can do it all, right from your PC as well. Here, for example, is a recording of a student teacher giving a testimonial after completing an internship at our school. Recently, the concept of recording students reading books came across my Twitter stream. This was not the first time I heard about the high yield strategy of providing children with the opportunity to listen to themselves read. This has been found to improve confidence, fluency and comprehension as the article indicated. So last week, after being reminded of this, we introduced two new activities at our school, one with grade 5 and the other with grade 1. Grade 5 – The students had already been involved in the 100 Word Challenge, a weekly creative writing activity for children 16 and under. Each week a prompt is given, which can be a picture or a series of individual words and the children can use up to 100 words to write a creative piece. In our case, grade 4, 5 and 6 students complete their writing on Microsoft Word, post it on their blog and then link it to the 100 Word Challenge blog. They receive some excellent comments from teachers and students around the world and may be selected as part of the weekly showcase of excellent writing. Here’s where the podcasting comes in. Starting last week the students have been voice recording their written entries. We have been embedding the Audioboo recording into their blog post along with the written piece. The students really enjoy hearing their voice and will be able to monitor their own progress as they add more entries to their blogs throughout the year. Here are a couple of examples: Alexis and her story about a dark stormy night in New York City¬†and Tyler writing about a poor bird. Grade 1 – If you want to see what pride looks like, just watch the face of a grade 1 student as they listen to themself read. Last week,CB276635-5691-4882-A165-60847A63D7A7-229-0000003ADC57D570[1] before returning their library books we voice recorded them reading their book. Then, we assisted them in embedding the recording in a Kidblog post. After sending the posts out through our school Twitter feed, a teacher and her students from Texas left a bunch of comments. What a powerful affirmation for our students. Here is¬†Kayla reading Frog and Toad are Friends¬†and Lemuel reading Nicky Upstairs and Down.¬†I encourage you to take a look at the comments they have already recieved. They can’t wait to hear themselves read again next week. We are looking forward to discovering more ways to incorporate voice recording into the literacy activities at our school. If the way in which our students are engaged in the process is any indication, I suspect more teachers will give it a try.

Categories: 21st Century Competencies, 21st Century Learning, ETMOOC, Inclusive Education | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Don’t Just “Cover” Curriculum

In our province the English Language Arts curriculum is loaded with numerous outcomes at every grade level. While looking through these outcomes last week my attention was drawn to the concept of  clarifying and extending thoughts and ideas, which is included throughout the K Р9 Program of Study. In grade 5, for example, students are expected to be able to clarify and extend by:

1. seeking others’ viewpoints to build on personal responses and understanding

2. combining ideas by using talk, notes, and personal writing to explore relationships among their own ideas and those of others, and

3. extending understanding by searching for further ideas and information from others.

Not only are teachers expected to “cover” these (and all other) prescribed outcomes, today we are wanting them to do it in such a way that 21st century competencies are being built at the same time.¬† I blogged about the difficulty with this earlier. What follows is a simple yet innovative¬†example of how these outcomes are being met through competency based learning.

Earlier this year our grade 5s connected with Mrs. Gray’s grade 5 class in Canton, Michigan through our school Twitter¬†account.¬†We¬†got to know each other¬†by tweeting our daily experiences and commenting on blog posts as both classes used Kigblog. Shortly thereafter a Skype visit was set up and the students were able to introduce temselves face-to-face. The level of engagement throughout these experiences was extremely high but¬†the curricular component¬†was missing.

Our current project, I believe, takes care of that. We are writing a story together using a Google Doc. Our students came up with a title and wrote the first part of the story. That alone was an exercise in creativity, collaboration, digital literacy, and problem solving. We then sent the link to Canton, where they edited and illustrated our writing, then extended the story by a couple of paragraphs. They have now returned it to us and the students are highly engaged in illustrating and writing again. This is what I call authentic literacy, calling upon students to utilize higher order thinking skills and build important competencies they will need in the future. Here is a link to the shared story as it currently exists.

I think we have effectively addressed the outcomes listed above, and made them relevant to the students. A number of these learning opportunities are out there for our students. As teachers, we just have to go looking for them.

Categories: 21st Century Competencies, 21st Century Learning, Capacity Building, Education Transformation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Give Your Library Books a 90 Degree Turn

Last week we made¬†one small change in our school library/media centre that immediately paid big dividends with student engagement. We’ve been spending the past few months transforming our library to¬†one that better meets the needs of today’s learner, and along the way have been tweeking as we go.

During that time our paper collection has been downsized¬†somewhat. Electronic material is¬†definately increasing but providing a balance is the key. I have found that while our older students prefer¬†electronic devices and reading online books through our Destiny Quest library system,¬†young¬†emerging readers still like to get their hands on books where their tactile senses can take charge.¬†When these students visit the library we usually lay out¬†a few books¬†for them to choose from as it is difficult to navigate the packed shelves. We’ve been looking for a way to provide them with more flexibility and choice

So we decided to give the library a 90 degree turn. Now our younger students can easily browse and have the freedom to make the choices they want. It was neat to watch them the first time they encountered the new set up. The engagement level was amazing.



Categories: 21st Century Learning, Education Transformation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Teachers – Invite Them and They Will Tweet

For some time now I’ve been preaching to my teachers about the benefits of Twitter. Since¬†opening my own¬†account¬†in May 2011 I would say that I’ve grown more as an educator than in the previous 20 years. The personalized learning offered through a quality PLN is second to none when it comes to relevant professional growth. I know this, but¬†have often wondered if¬†those I work with feel the same way. On more than one occasion in the past, I’ve felt the rolling of eyes while¬†sharing¬†my latest Twitter gold nugget with whoever is ready and willing to listen.

When two teachers approached me a few days back¬†to ask if I would consider¬†hosting an “Introduction to Twitter” supper session, I must say I was a bit reluctant.¬†Hesitant to act on the request,¬†I told¬†them we would probably be the only one’s there, but decided to give it a try, and on February 7th I fired off the following email:

“Good Morning Everyone,

A few of you have asked me about the possibility of having a session to learn more about how to use Twitter. In my opinion, there are many benefits of having your own Twitter account or one for your class. If interested, I would like to invite you to a sharing and learning session Thursday, February 16th from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in our school library. I will provide great food and a babysitter if needed. Let me know if you are interested.”

I was surprised to hear back from a couple of teachers later that day and could not have imagined that the numbers would continue to grow. The next morning a couple more committed to attending and by the end of that day we were at 20.  One by one, almost every teacher on staff took up the offer to attend the session Рon their own time. I was reminded of the importance of inviting rather than forcing when it comes to new learning experiences.
This evening we met. We set up Twitter accounts, followed great educators, and were introduced to hashtags, retweets and favorites. We learned, laughed and ate together. It was a powerful collaborative experience.  I am proud to introduce these great educators. Please consider giving them a follow.  @arlenewilliams9 @TedGross2 @BKindergarten @WingerterL @CrystalLothian @ANemecek
@ERodzinyak @AnnieGreeno @MeganRSLP @lisemccormack @CorkyKovach @millers6 @kimyearous
@EAMunroe @DoddiMatz @HeideeW @TheresaMead @JordanGroves2 @KBouch8 @cdsmeaton    
Categories: 21st Century Competencies, 21st Century Learning, Capacity Building | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Skype With Students – It’s A No Brainer

This past¬†week we connected a laptop to the Smartboard in our library and my grade 4 students participated in a Skype call for the first time, engaging in a wonderful dialogue with Ms. Witherspoon’s grade 4s¬†from South Carolina.¬† After this wonderful experience two things became very clear to me.¬† First of all, skyping with other classes is easy.¬† Secondly, lending itself to the development of a varirty of important 21st century competencies, skyping with students is a no brainer.

Since opening a Twitter account for our school last August (@stmarylibrary)¬†¬†I’ve noticed that most classrooms use their¬†account to¬†engage others.¬† Educators who have figured this out, mostly use Twitter for one of two reasons.¬† Either to direct followers to their blogs and other student created work¬†or to arrange more full engagement¬†through Skype.¬† As a matter of fact, this is exactly how we met.¬† After following one another for a few weeks we began to reply to the interesting happenings each school was posting.¬† Through these posts and replies we decided to introduce our students through Skype.¬†¬†¬†¬†

Our Skype visit with @spoonsclass was not strategically planned out by any stretch of the imagination, but the conversation provided for some amazing learning.¬† For starters, our schools are two time zones apart¬†and a quick look at Google Earth gave them some much needed perspective, seeing that South Carolina was about a 38 hour drive from our home in Southern Alberta.¬† After sharing a little bit about each of our schools the questions started.¬† At first,¬†the students were mostly interested in¬†snow,¬†class pets,¬†and the length of recess.¬†¬†At that point there were no set curricular outcomes being met but the level of¬†engagement was extremely high and inappropriate behavior was nonexistant.¬† In the middle of the question and answer period we found out that one of their students was celebrating a birthday and our class spontaneously¬†broke into song.¬† Then the students proudly shared their countries of origin as both schools are highly multi-cultural.¬†¬†We¬†learned that some of our students come from the same countries.¬† As our Blackfoot students from the¬†Blood Indian Reservation introduced themselves the @spoonsclass students informed us that they recently studied the Plains Indians in their Social Studies classes.¬†¬†It was very interesting to find out¬†that students from the¬†South Eastern part of¬†America study the history of our First Nations students.¬† The teachers agreed that there were some great possibilities for future learning activities.¬† Before saying goodbye¬†our students agreed to leave¬†comments on each others blog posts¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†and become¬†e-pals.¬† We can’t wait for our next Skype visit.

If you are interested in giving Skype a try check out Skype in the Classroom.¬† It’s a no brainer.

Categories: 21st Century Competencies, 21st Century Learning, Education Transformation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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