PILOT – Professionals Investigating Learning Opportunities with Technology

Four teachers at Tecumseh Elementary committed to working together on PILOT. Our job was to engage in an inquiry using technology with our students. We were provided with an iPad cart with 20 iPads for class use, 3 iPads for use of Resource teachers, 5 desktop computers in the library and Apple TV.

Students and parents in all of the classes were taught about iPad care and signed a use agreement.  For much of the term, teachers explored the technology with their classes with a focus on the tools. We had general discussions about developing writing and thinking skills but specific definition of an inquiry question was vague and the focus was how do you…

It was once we started to share what we were doing that our learning intentions became more defined. On teacher had started writing a Seasons Book with her Kindergarten students using Book Creator. Marion Collins started working with her Grade 6 students using keynote and Book Creator.

Virginia Bowden continued the work she had started with Kidblog with the Gifted students attending pull out Gifted programming in the district, used iMovie to have students create trailers on themselves and Prezi to develop research skills.

I continued the word I was doing with the Gifted students (in the district Multi-age Cluster class) during computer prep to develop their own blog on Kidblog and focused on having my Gr 3/4 class use Raz-Kids to support home reading and Book Creator to develop writing skills and explored search engines to answer questions.

Initially the focus was on learning how to use the tools and it looked like each of us were taking some very different directions. We narrowed the common elements down to the focus that each of us had taken in developing literacy skills.

Our discussion and questions were great:

  • How can we develop fluency in writing?
  • Adding pages encourages younger or less proficient writers to extend their writing. What about older and more proficient writers?
  • Does a lack of a keyboard limit the amount that students write?
  • Are templates available for report writing in Book Creator?
  • Is Book Creator more conducive to writing picture or poetry books?
  • Is the best way to teach note taking still having students write phrases with facts on paper; outlining / sort facts into groups, and creating their own paragraphs?
  • Are library books still the best way to match ELL students with reading material at their own level?
  • How can we get students to question the source of the information they read online? Hear on media or read in books?
  • Does using iPads break down gender barriers in oral communication?
  • Does adding sound clips lend itself to developing expressive reading skills?

Our inquiry question is still broad enough to let us pursue our individual interests but narrow enough to focus our discussion on how we are using the tools to support the language development of our English Language learners. Our intention is to make observations and reflect on the ways that technology is being used in our classrooms to develop oral language skills, reading skills, writing skills and the ability to represent ideas in visual formats. We have a general direction. The thinking and focusing continues. We’ll keep you posted.

Talking Technology Tools

I am currently working with a team of teachers in my school, Tecumseh Elementary, on a Technology pilot project: PROFESSIONALS INVESTIGATING LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES WITH TECHNOLOGY. Our tools include 20 iPads for classroom use, 3 iPads for Resource teacher use, 5 desktop computers in the library and apple TV. Have we gotten over talking tools yet? No so much.

We are immersed in the grand quest to learn about logistics of the technology use- all of the possible Apps and a myriad of questions.   Although we are all familiar with iPhones, iPads, and/or Apple computers, the technology is not intuitive. We have all committed to attend the after school technology sessions where we are introduced to the educational possibilities and provided with tech support. The sessions are a challenge due to the significant range in background knowledge in technology of all of the groups and individuals attending.

All four of us involved in PILOT at Tecumseh agreed that we would start with teaching responsible use of the iPads to our students, who range in age from 5-12 years old. One of the teachers created an agreement to be signed by students and parents and posted on the iPad cart. What are really interesting are our various approaches after that point.

I assigned each student a number and an iPad and gave students the opportunity to explore. When one student had discovered something interesting, I stopped the group and showed them what a specific student had done and asked how many other kids knew how to do it. (Note to self – Figure out how to use the Apple TV so I can do a better job of this sharing with a group.) Students became the teachers/mentors for other students wanting to try. Lots of dialogue. Lots of engagement.

My first assignment started with a goal of focusing my Grade 3/4 students on observing the change of seasons and creating a book using Book Creator that included:

  • The ideas from the sense poetry we had just created by webbing in our “Thinking Books” (I see, I hear, I smell, I taste, I fell… Stems are used to collect ideas, create an image, remove stems for finished poem)
  • 6 of the 12 photographs taken with the iPad when we did our “Sensing Fall” walk around the school (art work) and playground (signs of fall)
  • Book cover with a title, author / poet and 6 pages minimum.

As I was handing out the iPads, several students went to Drawing Pad to record the Book title, their name and start to decorate the cover of their books. We decided as a group that this was a great idea and the criteria would also include the use of Drawing Page to create the book cover.

My Grade 4 students who came from Tecumseh Annex and Moberly Elementary used Book Creator last year, so as students needed help adding pages, pictures or audio-clips, they came to me or one of the “teachers”.  This way we avoided the wait time of line-ups or everyone stopping to step through the process at the same time.

One problem some students encountered was the fact that their initial writing had ideas that were not matched with the pictures they took on our sense walk. It became an option to download photos from Internet to match the text. The storage room in the classroom became the “sound room” to add the audio-clips.  Lots of time was spent reading and re-doing the clips to ensure the sound clips sounded “good” (  Good was defined as reading with expression).

Finished products emerged over the course of several sessions (3-6) with the iPad.   What was surprising was the huge difference in the books including:

  • Poetry books with one line of poetry per page and one picture
  • An entire poem per page with a picture
  • Several pictures on a page, text on another page
  • A sentence with an observation (using the original stems) on a page with a picture
  • A fact about the picture on the page
  • One book that had nothing to do with the change of seasons, our sense poetry or the pictures we took. (The student let me know that he erased that book because he wanted to write about something else and all of the illustrations were done in drawing pad.)

Assignment #1 and reflections on a whole bunch of new questions including but not limited to:

  • Naturally stimulating oral language in English Language Learners
  • Apps to develop fluency in writing
  • Vocabulary development
  • How to set up Showbie for saving work for viewing at home and on different tools
  • Commenting on work electronically with “electronic post it notes”
  • Creating book trailers
  • Using Keynote
  • note taking for research – pen and paper vs. online

This is what I love about education – Always so much to learn. Always someone who wants to have the conversation about the learning.

Moving Beyond Half Truths and Innuendo

In The Vancouver Sun (Jan.3,2015 page A3), Daphne Braham did an OpEd piece: “A call for a return to rationality”.   Imagine the notion of proposing the checking of facts before forming opinions.   Brilliant!  What happened to the pause button, the one that use to be hit before uninformed criticisms intended to discredit, were lobbed into conversations or amplified via social media? How did we get to a point where we opted out of taking responsibility for what we popularize?   Negative statements or decontextualized comments are intimate incompetence, lack of the required cognitive skills or general untrustworthiness.  At times, even blatant lies are presented as fact and retracted after the damage is done or not.

How do we teach kids to care about fact?  How do we teach them that half truths and innuendo are neither reliable nor moral?   I am working under the presumption that we have a role to play as educators, parents and friends of the children under our care.  If we teach our children to scrutinize information and ask good questions, certainly it follows that there will be a higher degree of insistence on reasoned and fair decisions from themselves, as well as from friends, family and decision makers.

I recently went to see the Broadway musical, Into The Woods, that recently made it’s film appearance starring Meryl Streep.  Two classic lines jumped out of the movie:   “Be careful of the stories you tell, children will listen” and “I was brought up to be charming, not sincere”.  What are the stories we are telling our children with our conversations and treatment of others people and discussion of events?  Are we quick to jump to conclusions based on hearsay?  Do we give the benefit of the doubt to the person involved?  Do we place more value on charm than sincerity?  Do we ask enough questions to try to get a full picture of the situation or person.  Do we insist on factual information to make reasoned decisions?

The Grade 3 and 4 students that I work with two days a week are starting to do research projects on Canada.  How do we get children to understand history as a story involving real people with real stories at a specific point in time?  History by it’s nature is skewed by the person who is allowed to tell the story.  If children understand this at a young age, does it impact their quest to look at the story from a variety of viewpoints?  Does it define an insistence on looking at the facts?  Does it help them to look past the personality of the person telling the story?  My training in history insists that it must be true.  My social conscience hopes it is. The Grade 3 students in my class are each researching a province in Canada.  The Grade 4’s are researching Aboriginal Nations across Canada who are defined by geography.  I am very interested to be part of this conversation.  What will the questions be?  I’m hoping it is a spark that leads to insistence that rationality reins supreme in guiding perceptions and conclusions.  The beauty of being an educator, is we really do believe we can make a difference and create positive change.

To New Year Resolution or Not to…

Everywhere you go these days, the shift has happened from Merry Christmas to the focus on New Year plans and best wishes. 2015 is nearly upon us and I will not be going to bed early. I am a grand believer in celebrating each new year. I’m also a grand believer in the New Year’s Resolution. Current wisdom dismisses this exercise as a futile waste of time. I disagree.

In my quest to get organized for the new year, I have been emptying inboxes and wading through my accumulation of paper. I came across New Years resolutions written by my Mom. I recently saw WILD (a must see movie with Reese Witherspoon) and have been reflecting on the nature of the mother-daughter relationship. What my Mom gave me was a “cup half full” view of life. Yes, every year, she wrote the same resolutions. Yes, she believed in the promise of new beginnings and the hope that things could in fact change for the better. So she signed up for yoga and french classes and did her leg lifts and joined the quest to be more and do more. Perhaps this is why she could whether the storms tossed in her direction and they were many. She wasn’t able to be optimistic because life was easy. She stayed optimistic because she was interested in life going on around her. She delighted in the birds at her window, driving with the top down, a good cup of tea, the chat, and being with her family.

When I reflect back on the year, I could bemoan the shingles, the strike stress, the hot water leak, the not being all things to all people and the dishwasher out of commission for Christmas dinner. However, in the big scheme of things, the good far outweighed the bad and I’m excited to get to my partying and resolutions. I have been told I’m naive. I prefer the label of “a diehard optimist”.

The book study group with colleagues: Guiding Readers. making the Most of the 18- minute Guided Reading Lesson (Lori Rog Jamison 2012) holds promise for my Gr. 3/4 ELL to get more time on text at their level. The iPad pilot is opening up new possibilities with use of Book Creator and Showbie and who knows what next. Professional involvement in Phi Delta Kappa and the International Reading Association holds promise of good conversation. And yes, I will exercise more, get better at skiing and boarding, try Vinyassa Power Flow, eat better, cook delectable meals and stop drinking diet coke. The possibilities are endless…

Happy New Year! Don’t forget the resolutions 🙂

The Power of The Talking Stick

Last weekend I came across a great tweet by Dr. Allen Mendler.  He did a nice job of articulating the need for educators to directly teach students how to have a conversation.  The last item on his list was recommending using a talking stick.  Last week I had one of many experiences, that have underlined the power of the talking stick. In the Vancouver Board of Education, there are several Aboriginal School Support workers.  We are fortunate to have Dena Galay assigned to our school to support our Aboriginal students and work with teachers to create a better understanding of past and present Aboriginal culture.  She has been working in my classroom of Grade 3/4 students and helping us to learn about Aboriginal people in our study of Canada.  She has shared her Metis heritage from Dene (Chippewayan) and French Canadian roots in northern Saskatchewan.  Last Tuesday, we did our first talking circle. Dena has a very special talking stick that was gifted to her by the first female carver in British Columbia, Nan Williams, from the Nu Chul Nuth ( Nootka) band.

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She introduced each of the symbols on the talking stick and its significance in Aboriginal Culture, especially to Indigenous people on the Northwest Coast of North America.   She did an amazing job of setting up a respectful context for the person holding the talking stick to speak and to be heard.  She encouraged the class to share their culture and the places their parents were born.  Many of the students in my class speak one or more languages other than English at home.   Some students are not familiar with participating in conversations at home or at school with adults.  A lot of encouragement is placed on joining conversations and participating in lessons at school to develop proficiency in English language skills.  This is very hard for some students.  I noticed two particularly interesting things during the circle:

1.  The students comfortable talking in a large group, looked up and talked to the group.

2.  Students that were more reluctant to speak, looked at the talking stick while they shared.

Dena posed one topic at the beginning of the circle for each student to respond to.  All of the students were able to participate without prompting, even the 3rd grader who arrived from China at the end of August and is just starting to speak English.  Once we finished the question about culture, students were anxious to go around the circle again.  The talking stick allowed all of the students to be successful in speaking during the circle.

Laurie Ebenal, principal of Suwa”lkh School in Coquitlam, presented at the Mental Health Symposium, sponsored by BCPVPA recently.    To introduce the circle, she handed out cards with symbols that are important in Aboriginal culture.  The task was to find the person with the same card and ask some questions to introduce your partner during the circle.  It was a very non-threatening mixer activity to get to know one another and to introduce the circle.  She had a pile of artifacts in the center of the circle such as an eagle feather, an abalone shell and a stone.  She is the principal in an alternate school named Suw’lkh which means “First Beginnings.”  This school supports Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students who are struggling to succeed.  When students arrive at the school, they are frequently reluctant to share their experiences and feelings.  She explained that the artifacts are a way to draw attention away from the speaker and establish a greater comfort zone for sharing.   It’s easier for some students to express their thoughts while looking at the artifacts.  It’s easier for some students to receive the information without making eye contact.  It provides another path into the circle.

When I was teaching Middle School in Coquitlam, I worked with Latash (Maurice) Nahanee who was an Aboriginal Support worker at the time.  We worked with a group of Aboriginal students from SD#43 and a group of Aboriginal students from Ottawa on a Youth Exchange initiative sponsored by the YMCA.  The talking circle was a regular part of our work with our students.  There was an expectation that honesty and respect would be part of the experience.  It was the vehicle for communication within the group, whether it was getting to know the group, processing experiences, or problem solving.  This was also a good space to build community and prepare for the more formal, ceremonial circles which we participated in during our visit to Ottawa.

I have experienced the talking circle as being a good addition to any educational context to build a sense of belonging.   The talking stick is an instrument of Aboriginal democracy that has spanned thousands of years.  It has a lot to teach us about past and present day Aboriginal culture.  At best, the talking stick is introduced by a person within the Aboriginal culture who communicates the knowledge, the pride, the respect and the honour that comes when we are gifted with this ancient tradition.   The development of oral language skills evolves as students grapple with the task of  communicating their thoughts and feelings to their peers.  It also helps students to develop active listening skills by tuning into the body language and words of the speaker in an undistracted context.  As my Grade 3 and 4 students got ready for recess, the most prevalent question was “When can we do that again?”

 

 

 

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teaching-your-students-conversation-allen-mendler

The Business of Being a Literacy Leader

International Reading Association members have now had a chance to digest (or peruse) their journal or online Sept/Oct subscriptions. Marie Craig Post references significant changes in the International Reading Association and reports the questions/concerns raised at the leadership conference (The Business of Leading) that I was attending with 114 other International Reading Association leaders across 38 other provinces/states this summer in Florida. Many of these changes in demographics of IRA members and different styles of professional engagement, you are seeing unfold in your own communities. For some of you, the most significant changes will be outlined during the International Reading Association Conference in St. Louis from July 17-20, 2015 as the IRA strives to keep up with the pace of change. Hopefully moving the conference to summer and removing Teacher on Call costs from the equation, will assist more IRA members in attending the 60th Anniversary IRA 2015 Conference. Mark the date and start planning to get there. It will be worth it!

As the BC Provincial Coordinator of the International Reading Association, I work with IRA members in the province to make connections with head office and other councils.  I encourage you to visit the International Reading Association Head Office website in order to learn more about the organization and become an IRA member.  The IRA offers several Grants and Awards to IRA members.  The deadline has been extended to January 15, 2015.  Members in British Columbia, go to ReadingBC to learn more about opportunities for IRA members to support literacy in our province.

Embracing Questions and Moving Forward

The October, Provincial Professional Development Day in BC has become more of a Professional Development weekend.  Sessions start Thursday night and continue on through the weekend to make the most of the opportunity for participants from across the province to develop background knowledge, pursue passions and work collaboratively with like minded people.  The BC Principals and Vice Principals Associations, Individual District Administrator groups, BCTF Provincial Specialist Associations, Local Associations, UBC and a whole host of other organizations and  provided a plethora of options for educators to improve their professional practice. Implicit in coming together to work and learn collaboratively is the desire to improve our classroom/school practices and better meet the needs of a diverse population of students.

I went to a great session by Andrew Schofield , a Vancouver Administrator, on Saturday morning at a professional development conference for administrators in Vancouver Board of Education.   He was working with a staff in the 1990’s in South Africa, as they grappled with the significant shifts in government and societal changes, while still under the huge pressures of 70% unemployment and rampant health challenges.  His presentation focused on reflecting on our own responses to change, as well as trying to understand the responses of colleagues in the midst of change.  While some people find change exciting and others meet it with skepticism, everyone needs to cope with patterns and expectations outside of what has been established as the norm.  It’s hard.  Yet, despite it being a risk taking venture, educators all over the province regularly engage in change, motivated by government initiatives, needs of students and personal desire to do something better.

This Monday, the professional development continued at my school and the focus was inquiry.    As frequently happens with educators after prod days, I was anxious to try out some of the things that I had learned.   I used some of the activities that Andrew introduced as icebreakers to start off the session and  encourage reflection on the nature of change.  Simple activities like folding hands and legs and arms in a familiar way and then shifting to an unfamiliar ways resulted in a good laugh and some great reflection.   Seamless, familiar, automatic movements were shifted to unfamiliar actions requiring  deliberate cognitive engagement.  It was awkward and uncomfortable.  The discussion continued with the reflection on the preferences for the chocolates or skittles or jujubes (which also involved favorite colours) in bowls on the centre of the table.  Decisions were deliberate and automatic and not up for discussion.  This was a great way to move into working in inquiry teams with a diverse group of peoples with a little more patience and understanding of the approaches, reactions and unspoken assumptions of group members.

Teachers engaged in rich discussion about the nature of inquiry, the types of questions to consider, and their interests.  We have using Spirals of Inquiry (2013) by Halbert and Kaser to frame our discussions on inquiry.  Some groups shared questions and thoughts arising out of recent prod sessions and others shared learning coming out of previous inquiries.  One group had focused their attention on giving students a greater range of choice when doing project based learning.  We were fortunate to have Barb McBride, the district Reading Recovery Teacher Leader attending our prod.  She shared her work with Maureen Dockendorf, Faye Brownlie, Judy Halbert, Linda Kaiser and other inspirational educators to facilitate the inquiry process in British Columbia.  Her work with three teachers in our school has resulted in an inquiry group focusing on supporting the most vulnerable students in their early literacy development.  Another group of teachers talked about the recent session they had attended with educators across the district to define questions about how we can use technology to increase student engagement and learning .  Another group told about the conference cosponsored by NITEP and BCTF at the UBC longhouse.  They were considering how to apply their learning to create a better sense of belonging and understanding of Aboriginal ways of knowing at the school.  One teacher introduced us to Apple tv and an app she had recently purchased for scheduling, organization and record keeping.    It was certainly one of those days when I’m left in awe of the intelligence, commitment and tenacity of teachers in the quest to be lifelong learners.  This is the work that I find not only inspiring but energizing.

Another Look at Gratitude

The return to school after job action has been fraught with complexity and things to do. This week we hit a moment of pause and celebration. It is one of those moments that become one of “the moments” that make all the difference in a life. Canadians, whether by nature or training, are good at manners. The workweek is filled with please and thank you. However what made this week a little different was the decision of a staff to say a collective thank you, not at the end of something but in the midst of it.   On a Thursday after school, our staff took the opportunity to breathe and express gratitude for the things they have appreciated most from their school administrators. The demands don’t dissolve but they continue with a lightness of heart and a smile.

The Facebook phenomenon of public expressions of gratitude can be dismissed as the latest fad. However when you look at the research pointing to the higher degree of happiness in developing countries, compared to developed, consumer-based cultures, the concept becomes worthy of another look.  This year as part of my teaching assignment, I am teaching a Grade 3/4 class on Mondays and Tuesdays. Students have started their “Thinking Books” to draw, web, observe and scrapbook ideas to write about. Everyday at the back of the book, students record one thing they are grateful for. I set out thinking it would provide students with a positive frame to contribute to good mental health and perhaps serve as another source of ideas to develop in their writing.   What I am discovering is that they want to share what they are grateful for and it is taking on a life of its own.  I’m curious as to the impact that it will have in the culture of the classroom, student writing and other possibilities.

It’s a rainy Saturday morning in Vancouver and our little two-bedroom condo is filled to the brim with relatives poised to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. I have stolen to the local Starbucks to let everyone sleep and ponder the week. And yes…I am feeling so very grateful.

Dr. Gregory Cahete Speaks at UBC Longhouse

As alumni of UBC, I was pleased to receive the invite to attend Dr. Gregory Cahete’s talk:  Indigenous Community in a 21st Century World: The Re-Emergence of Indigenous Community Education.  I have been a fan of Dr. Cahete (professor of Education at the University of New Mexico for the past 18 years), since I read Look To The Mountain (1994) while I was a Faculty Associate at Simon Fraser University.  Cajete grew up surrounded by four sacred mountains.  In Cahete’s own words, “the Elders of the community would often admonish youngsters to “Look to the Mountain” and this metaphor has come to reflect his contemporary philosophy for indigenous education.  Elders prompted younger people to “take their thinking to a higher level-as if on top of a mountain.”  Cajete’s book  has been a call to consider what is important in teaching and learning to make schools relevant to our Aboriginal learners.  It described the American Indian perspective that the reflection of the past is necessary in order for Aboriginal people to build their futures.

Cajete and his Taos Pueblo people represent 1000 years of community in New Mexico.  The claim of all Aboriginal people is that they belong to enduring communities.   The community has been a human process constructed to provide a perception of belonging that supports a sense of identity in context.   In turn, it supports individual acceptance, agreement on core values, respect, accountability, reciprocity, efficacy and a move towards or away from function.  Dr. Cahete uses the metaphor of  “all kernels of the same corn cob” to describe the essence of unity and diversity within the building of community.  The tragedy of colonization was the breakdown of community, the dehumanization, isolation and the subsequent political and spiritual fragmentation.  His advice in the recreation of the cultural economies around an Indigenous paradigm necessitates:

  •             Learning history
  •             Research into principles of Indigenous ways of sustainability
  •             Collaboration and cooperation
  •             Ecological integrity
  •             Sustainable orientation
  •             Revitalization of a vision and purpose
  •             Cultural integration
  •             Respect for all
  •             Engaging participation in community

Cahete emphasizes that building community requires work and facilitates the perpetuation of Aboriginal people.  There is a exciting indigeneous revitalization in visual art and dance relationships and a beginning of science relationships.  Cahete’s background as a biologist has stimulated an interest in reclaiming traditional forms of science and building processes of revitalization to recreate sustainable, indigenous communities.  He advocates adhering to the Iroquois maxim by thinking seven generations ahead and implementing the traditional environmental and cultural knowledge unique to a group of people which has served to sustain through generations of living within a distinct bioregion.  Evolving indigenous methodologies include deep dialogue, deep listening and deep reflective conversation built on the tradition of the talking stick.  Indigenous people explored questions, problems and issues that were important in this way and they were witnesses by community to ensure  accountability.  The biggest challenges is the current paradigm with an overemphasis on individualism rather than the good of the community.

As we rethink ways in which to support Aboriginal students, Cahete provides much to consider.  What are the indigenous teachings and ways of being from the past that can help us recreate respectful and vibrant learning communities for our Aboriginal students?  What is the learning and teaching required to create the pathway toward environmental sustainability and integrated, supportive communities?  How can the process of acknowledging past injustices be refocused on future revitalization?  All questions worth talking, listening and reflecting on.  Good talk!

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Technology Tools to Inspire Thinking

Dr.Ruben Puentedura presented his SAMR model in Vancouver this past August. His work at Harvard has focused on developing this model to consider the application of technology in educational contexts has been of considerable interest on the conference circuit. He has observed and classified how technology is applied in educational contexts and describes them with the following categories:

  • Substitution
  • Augmentation
  • Modification
  • Redefinition

Not surprisingly, it is the more challenging tasks that are redefined in a way that was not previously possible, result in the most significant and promising direction for our students. The biggest challenge for many educators, myself included, is developing:

  1. The background knowledge to provide meaningful options for our students to demonstrate their learning.
  2. Opportunities for enthusiastic interest to be channeled into meaningful projects that require use of higher order thinking skills.
  3. Criteria for assessment that is broad enough not to limit the range of options but specific enough to provide meaningful scaffolding for learning.

 In some cases, we are lucky to have students who bring a wealth of knowledge in applications of technology. I was able to present the basics of Prezi to gifted students in a Multi-age cluster class in Vancouver, and the students discovered possibilities that I hadn’t even considered. I introduced the same students to Kids Blog and they showed me the various ways that their individual blogs could communicate information and learning in meaningful ways to their intended audiences.

 I have been lucky to come into contact with people using technology in their own personal learning and in educational contexts with kids. Chris Kennedy and his team from West Vancouver provided some great mentoring at PDK dinner meetings. Audrey Van Alstyne, Brian Kuhn and Joanne Carlton are presenting options for students to engage with technology in meaningful ways in Vancouver. A print source that I am finding extremely helpful is Connecting Comprehension and Technology: Adapt and Extend Toolkit Practices (2013) by Harvey, Goudvis, Muhtaris and Ziemke.

 Kristin Ziemke’s presentation at The International Reading Association’s AGM in New Orleans (May 9-12) was extremely well attended. She is in high demand as a speaker due to her work to build on the practice of using innovative technology tools to amplify the thinking of her Grade 1 students. Katie Muhtaris’ work with her 5th graders provides the practical basis to consider the digital tools that would best serve the educational interest of deepening thinking, understanding of new concepts and developing comprehension skills. The work of Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis provide the theoretical frame for considering how educators can develop comprehension and implement thinking strategies in the classroom. This book provides specific lesson plans and ideas that make small steps possibilities. I borrowed the book but it is definitely one I will purchase so I can have it for regular reference.

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