Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Wonder of Wonder

My goal when I came into this school year was to share with my students that they had a voice and it was important for them to choose how they would share it with the world and those around them. From this goal came the strategy to connect them with students around North America and possibly the world. I joined Global Readaloud last October for this very reason. If you haven’t heard of this project by an amazing teacher in the US, Pernille Ripp, you should. That was my first step into the amazing journey myself and my students have had this year.
With Out of my Mind, we joined classes in learning about Melody, a character who we laughed with, cried with and got angry on her behalf. We also had the chance to talk with other students about our thoughts of Melody’s journey and challenges. One of the classes we really connected with was a class out of Michigan with a teacher I’ve enjoyed connecting with time and again, Laura Weakland. I would email her with my crazy ideas on things our students could share and she would always say, “That’s great!” to this crazy teacher from Canada she was connecting with.
Once we finished this novel, she shared with me another she was going to do with her class called “Wonder” and wanted to know if we’d like to continue connecting. I said we’d love to and from this we met the incomparable “Auggie”, again a main character my students loved. It was so wonderful to hear them making comments like “I can’t believe they did that” or “Ohhh Julien’s so mean” as they walked out to recess, comparing notes about what we’d read that day.
It was a few weeks into the novel that I received the email about a special guest my connecting teacher was having come to her class. Peter was a real life “Auggie” who visited classes sharing his message, talking them about the importance of choosing kindness. While he was in her class, Laura talked to Peter’s mom about whether they would consider skyping with a class in Canada (yes mine!!)
While this was something she and Peter had never done before, they both said why not and a flurry of emails went back and forth trying to organize schedules, time zone differences, and more. But in the end, it did happen and we had a chance to meet a young man who was amazing – kind, patient and well-spoken. His message resonated with my students, challenging them to being open to making friends with someone who may look a little different. I knew what he said struck home when many of my parents came the next day to the Demonstration of Learning the next day and talked about how their child told them all about “meeting” Peter and how much they enjoyed their time shared with him.
I look back to my goal at the beginning of the year and feel I’ve not only reached it but I have surpassed it. it’s happened with the help of the many incredible people I’ve met throughout the journey my class and I have made this year, more than those I’ve mentioned. To all of you, thank you for the gift of your time, your sharing of ideas. It’s been a journey I’ve enjoyed taking with my students and it leaves me wondering what’s next?

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And so I Dip my Toe into the Water….

It doesn’t seem that long ago I heard about this “twitter” thing. I relegated it to the likes of Miley Cyrus and Ellen, not something for me. I didn’t Facebook or Pinterest, so why would I do this tweeting thing. Who had time??

Then I signed up last June to do a short term teacher exchange to Spain (which IS coming up in 2 weeks!! Ack!!) I was “asked” to either blog to tweet about my experience. Well blogging didn’t seem like something I’d have time for, so I jumped on board and decided to give it a whirl, not realizing how it would change my life, both personally and professionally.

For those new to twitter, it can be intimidating in the beginning, figuring out those unspoken rules – get rid of the “egg” profile, understand hashtags, how to follow, who to follow, spamming. It was a little overwhelming at first and I am not embarrassed to say I made some mistakes, looked like a fool more than once. But somehow I slowly figured it out and what came from my mistakes and adventures on twitter was amazing.

Without twitter, I would have never found out about Edcamps, Global Readaloud, Mystery Skypes and so much more. I would have not found the greatest twitter chats like #cdnedchat, #bcedchat and #mbedchat. But most importantly I would not have found the amazing PLN I have found. For those new to twitter I will tell you if you take the time and really look you will find educators who will make you think like Joe Bower, Greg Miller, George Couras, Pernille Ripp and so many more. You will find educators that will open your mind to the possibilities like Paul Solarz, Drew Minock, Brad Waid, Kathy Cassidy, Matt Gomez, Todd Nesloney, and again so many more. These people have made me look at my teaching and made me want to do more, do it better. They’ve shown me taking risks when it comes to my students is the greatest thing I can do, taking that road less traveled is not necessarily a bad thing.

But for me, most importantly, if you are lucky you will find educators that will reinvigorate your passion for this job and remind you why you started in this crazy business. These educators have been my sounding board when I needed to vent, answered my questions that I struggled with but most importantly they connected with me and my class, bringing my teaching to a whole new level. Kelli Holden, Dana Ariss, Zoe Bettes, Laura Weakland, Rebecca Sturdy thank you for being willing to connect with this newbie and help me to find my way, you have all played a part in helping me perhaps not become a better teacher, but more excited about my job again. I feel like that kid at Christmas, not being able to wait to share this new idea I have, this new connection we are going to make, this new road we are going to travel on.

So to those teachers who say I don’t have time to do twitter, I say you are wasting a golden opportunity. Twitter is limitless in the opportunities it can provide an educator. I say if you make the time, you will never look back. I know I don’t.

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