One resource to initiate engagement in multiple areas.

ondergedokenAs Christmas break ended and we returned to school, our class finished reading and working with the novel “Raven Quest”. Although this novel looked at over coming adversity, thinking over others and understanding aspects of writing such as setting and sequencing, there was only engagement from all of my students when I was reading the text (Story Time). I wanted a text that would engage my grade six students in multiple areas and in multiple ways – simply put I wanted do do something that was as inclusive as possible.

After some lengthy conversations with my colleagues that I would consider literacy Guru’s, i decided to choose “The Diary of Anne Frank”. There are variety of ideas, concepts and activities you could do in relation to the story. For the students in 6C we will be beginning with the following and hope to hear of some other great ideas which we may try.

To incorporate numeracy we will be looking at the two time lines that exist within the span of the story. The time line of Anne Frank and the time line of World War II. We are then going to examine how the two relate to each other and therefore determine how one timeline effected and influenced the other. This will then be combined with students looking, with their parents help at their parents time line and overlapping that with the events that occurred both nationally and internationally, which may have effected their lives.

In respect to citizenship and community, the students are going to examine the issues between Nazi Germany and the Jewish community and how the role of Nazi Germany effected surrounding communities and countries. This will also relate to Social Studies, looking through the lens of government, national identity and relationships. nazi_flag_581 - Copy

Although we are only in the first forty pages of the story, I am really looking forward to working through this story with my students. We have already had some great conversations about equality, integrity, social justice and right & responsibilities, but I am sure that this is just the tip of the ice berg.

If you have some ideas or have previously tried, please share I would love to make this an expereince my 6’s will never forget. Also please stayed tuned as we progress through the story and display our learning and our adventures.

New Year, New Assignment ohhhh the possibilities.

What an amazing summer.  After three years being in charge of the reins and making sure that everything was always ready to go and that everything was set for the first day,  I was able to and took full advantage of the so called “two months off” during the summer. I must say that it was fabulous. I enjoyed every part of it especially the five days of fishing, twenty feet from my back door.

This however is not the reason for this post, first I would like to apologize to all of my friends and colleagues for my absence, but would also like to pass on the assurance that you will be hearing a lot from me both from this location and others that I will connect you with shortly.

 

blog classroom

This year, I am excited to teach grade six and while teaching my #youngpadawans (Star Wars is my class theme) I will be actively using what I have learned about over the past three years and encouraged other educators to use. I will be working with my kids to tweet out questions and to make global connections to learn and connect using our classroom twitter account.

I am thrilled that I have the privileged to walk my students through their initial trials and discoveries using Google Classroom 

In addition to keep my students parents connected to the classroom and aware of what is being covered, what is expected and the experiences of the students. I will be using Remind, our Rams Class Facebook account and our PSDBlogs class blog.

Please come and join our adventure as we navigate the universe and make memories and connections that will change how we work, influence how we learn and fuel our need to be challenged.

 

Twitter Connects and Educates – even from space

I have been meaning to write this post for some time now, however as with many of us the Christmas season was hectic and then a blur, and before I knew it I was back to work. Trying to get back into the swing of things, organizing, preparing and well everything else. However, yesterday I was helping a new colleague get started on her digital portfolio and it reminded me that it has been some time since I last posted.

Although it has been some time since the occurrance, the significance is still quite impressive and pertanant.

sws_hadfield01

I do not remember what morning specifically it was, but I was making the long drive from the City (Edmonton) to my school (Seba Beach School) listening to the radio, when I heard about Commander Hadfield. Hadfield is a Canadian Astronaut, who is currently living in space aboard ISS as Flight Engineer on Expedition 34. He is also expected  to be the Commander of Expedition 35. The commander is also Orbiting Earth on ISS. O.k. so this is not an amazing News Flash, however the broadcast mentioned that the commander was tweeting.

He was tweeting what he was doing, he was tweeting what he was seeing and he was posting pictures of what he was seeing. This now impressed me, especially as an educator. The Commander was providing the world with a chronological account of what he was seeing and when. Talk about an educators dream come true. Real life, real time pictures from space. This however was not the limit of what Hadfeild was doing. It was commented that Hadfield was responding to tweets by students and educators and answering questions about his life, adventures and experiences in space.

As an educator in the 21st century this was and is profound to be able to learn about geography, current events, social studies, current events, space and astronomy in the moment. Not reading a text, not seeing pictures that have been processed and in a paper or text, but to learn from an individual that is experiencing it first hand and in the moment. What I would have done to have this when I was a student and upon reflection I can truly say that my motivation for learning some of the curriculum in school would have be so much more if learning had been like this.

I have heard many arguments about the use of Twitter in education. These conversations are both for and against. I would not say that Twitter is going create a fundamental change in a students learning, but I will say that it will make a change in how students learn, what is available to students and teachers as well depending on the resource the quality of the resource being used. What I am saying is that using Twitter in the classroom would be a valuable tool for teachers, students and administrators.

I encourage teachers to check out and follow Commander Hadfield, and that if it applies to your class and what they are covering to connect with him and ask him questions, you never know the door and conversations that it could open up.

Seba Beach 2012-2013 – Come Join us

Sunset
Parkland School Division has made some great, innovative and inspiring changes over the course of last year and many will come into effect this year at Seba.

With a New Vision : Parkland School Division is a place where exploration, creativity, and imagination make learning exciting and where all learners aspire to reach their dreams.

And a New MissionOur purpose is to prepare, engage and inspire our students to be their best in a quickly changing global community.

To ensure that we are meeting our division Vision and Mission the educational team at Seba Beach will be trying a great number of things, the new division report card and digital portfolio’s to name two. In addition the team at Seba hope to increase clarity, to increase the sharing of information and practices as well as engage parents and community by allowing them a direct line and view of the learning that is going on in each classroom.

We will strive to achieve this by are being inviting parents, community members, other division staff and other educational stakeholders to access our classroom blogs which are listed below as well as our school Facebook pages.

R. Kremeniuk – Kremeniuks Building Blocks 

N. Peck – Lighthouse at Seba

S. Powell – Winds of Change

G. Ferzli – Ferzli’s Fury

K. Kindrat – Eye of the Storm 

S. Wong – Khondowe’s Kapers

We hope that by collaborating within our division, outside our division, by highlighting our diversity and expressing our success while sharing our learning that we can ensure that at Seba Beach we are doing our best to meet the priorities we have in Parkland School Division.

Please come and join us, and share your ideas and experiences.

Waiting in Anticipation

Roughly a year ago I started using twitter to increase my PLN and make connections not only withing my school division, but also around the world. It has been a wonderful experience interacting and getting to know some great colleagues such as:

@shannonmmiller a Teacher Librarian & Technology Specialist from Van Meter Iowa

@greta ESL teacher from Buenos Aires, Argentina

wapellayouth.files.wordpress.com

@bethstill founder of the ISTE newbie project

@MrMacnology a Teacher and Tech-coach from Southern Oregon

@L_Hiltan Elementary Principal from Pennsylvania

@Mollybmom an Instructional Consultant from Saskatoon

@Kylepace a K-12 Instructional Technology Specialist from Kansas City

@davidWees an Educational Technology Consultant from Vancouver

@Saskateach an Instructional Consultant from Saskatoon

and many, many more, more than can be mentioned (sorry to those I haven’t mentioned). However I mention these colleagues and friends, because of an up and coming conference at the end of June. While learning the ropes, ins and outs of the twitter verse, I kept hearing about ISTE2010 which was held in Denver last year. From the comments, blogs and articles that were shared during the month of July, it appeared that ISTE was not only a great learning opportunity and experience, but was also a great place for connecting and meeting the members of ones PLN.

Upon returning to school in September, I began to request and question my Principal about attending. My attendance was approved in November and I quickly registered and waited patiently for the program list. Last weekend I spent time going through all the sessions and planned out my calendar. Now I anxiously await, not the end of the school year, but my ISTE2011 adventures in Philadelphia.

I must say that I am very excited about all of the sessions that I have chosen to attend, but I am really excited about seeing, face to face some of the great educators that I have connected with through twitter. So with that 66 days and counting.

An Apple a Day

There is an exciting and wonderful world out there, and as a teacher (special education)  trying to significantly intragrate technology in the classroom there is one fruit that in my humble opinion would make that easier both on my students and myself.

 

Image from techvibes.com

Although I am a trained and tested Windows and IBM user, I have been slowly wandering into the world of apple. Aside from some personal reservations about the ease and accessibility that is possible if someone gets a hold of your technology, I understand and see the appeal.  More importantly, if there was only one convincing argument that I had to make to other teachers about why to use an Ipod touch or an Ipad in their classroom instead of a desktop or laptop. It would be an easy one, and one that only has two related words that many early years and division one teachers despise at the end of a computer or technology class “USERNAME & PASSWORD

I am fortunate to have a very innovative and technologically minded Administrator, that would support my idea and soon to be plan to use Apple devices in my classroom. With this  ace in the whole I look forward to using:

BrainQuest Blast Off: Grade 3

MadLibs

MagicMath

Miss Spell

Story Kit

Spell It Lite

Stanza

Basic Math

Match Lite

Math Quizzer

Tanzen Lite

as well as other great applications (APPs) that would assist and differentiate in the learning of my students.

So why the change, simple my students already have their own desktop computers with access to such programs as Edmodo, Twiducate, Raz-Kids, Kidblog and more, but to have this at their desks for working on their assignments, but to have access to information while they are watching a lesson that I am work on with them at the smart board, would be great. In addition, I can slowly move to a paperless classroom. My last final personal and possibly selfish reasons for using such technology has two parts, it is great to see to students learn when they don’t see it as learning but having fun and finally, using an Ipod touch or Ipad allows for me to differentiate instruction for my students with more ease.

I know that there will be some learning struggles for me about how to fully use and intergrate the technology into my class for instruction purposes, but I also see the most important advantage and benefit – – –

INTERACTIVE LEARNING

Image from historyforkids.org

 

Traveling at light speed in the Twitter-verse

I am by no means an expert or a guru when it comes to the uses, applicability or applications of twitter in the classroom. Actually, I am very much the opposite in comparison to many of the individuals I share and learn from on twitter. I have tried to actively use twitter to build my PLN since the end of March of 2010.

In addition to using twitter everyday, at school and at home, I discuss with those friends not on twitter ( I know there are people not on twitter ), what I have learned or discussed on twitter. When I advocate for the use of twitter, my primary points are being connected, building relationships and communicating, sharing ideas and learning.

I have also caught myself asking some of my colleagues, how come I have not seen them on twitter. With the most common answer being “I don’t have the time or I takes too much time”. At which I often gawk, reminding them that I am just as busy as they are.

While sitting at home over the weekend, I took some time to reflect and think about how I, an intermediate or beginner user of twitter would help a beginner user make the most of using twitter, while maintaining a balance between all the things in their life, such as family, friends, other school related duties etc.

There are many, many lists and blogs that will advise users of how to, what to and when to use twitter, but I have noticed that none of them mention one slight piece of information that is very important.

Yes, it does take some time and an investment, but like everything in education, learning and life. The investment that you put into it directly relates to what you will get out of it.


If I was asked, and although it is rare, but sometimes I am, this is the ideas, directions and suggestions that I would give an educator that is looking to use twitter may be not in their classroom, but to become connected. These are not stead fast rules, but a compilation of information and suggestions that I have read or that have been shared with me.

SHARE : ideas, links and information that you use and would promote people to use. This includes sharing what you do in the classroom with your students or your reflections.

CC/140 : you only have 140 characters so be clear and to the point. Try and say it without rambling (something I had to learn the hard way)

ASK : ask questions, ask for help (for resources, information. Everyone in your PLN is here for the same reason to learn and that is done together.

TWIT-ID : you are tweeting as a professional and as in the physical world appearance does hold importance. So choose a name and avatar that is appropriate.

RETWEET : if you like what someone has said or shared, retweet the comment, add an additional comment if you wish. Essentially what you are doing is giving someone credit for something, while agreeing with the comment.

TIMING: obviously this is important and there is nothing worse than saying something or asking something and not getting a response. To reach the most people roughly 11:00-12:00  EST time is the best time. The east coast is preparing for lunch, the west coast is getting to work and Europe is home for the evening.

Now for the BIG QUESTION:

HOW OFTEN: like I previously stated, what you put into it correlates to what you will get out of it, but as a suggestion I would say as you are getting started, try to send out at least 21 tweets/retweets/ideas per day for 21 days. After this it will become a habit and ease for you to login, chat and share for a short while and then return to other elements of your day.

Now before I leave, I know that for new users there is a large amount of information, here, but there is one question that is still causing some hesitance. The question is “What Do I Tweet About”, to make it easier and this post shorter. Just click on the question and you’ll be linked to a great post by George Couros (@gcouros) that covers, very well what you should tweet about and what to avoid.

This is by no means a complete list, so if you have any ideas or suggestions please feel free to add them and I will update the post as soon as possible.