It’s October – What’s Happening?

October has entered with stormy weather (I think there’s a song about this..). And as we watch the leaves change colour and blow in the wind, we’ve been able to connect with returning students as well as get to know new students and staff. 

This is a significantly busy month in Fast ForWord. Learning sessions and refreshers have started and again our Coquitlam partners joined us so we’re one big happy family. It’s great to be able to share and gain additional perspectives. And a huge welcome to our new sites starting out on this journey. 

Reading Assistant has relaunched as Reading Assistant Plus. This upgrade includes focused word wall work (integrating well with our Words Their Way program), more stories, practice in fluency (one of the cornerstones of reading) and strategies to strengthen comprehension. We’re very excited that we can offer this to many more sites. Learning session for anyone on current and new sites are in the Staff Development calendar (Nov 2nd). 

I always like to leave folks with a little bit of wonder… This is a TedxVancouver (2015) video of Dr Lara Boyd’s (brain researcher at UBC) description of the wonder of neuroplasticity.  Now what questions do you have? 

 

Welcome back

Hope everyone had a great summer. It looks like the warm days aren’t quite ending just yet. I always look forward to beginnings and school startup is no exception – lots of interesting things to learn and new people to meet. With all the changes happening, the dates for Fast ForWord learning series are set. This year, all sites will be able to take advantage of Reading Assistant in their repertoire. Whether you are a returning teacher needing a refresher, a new teacher taking on this role, set your calendars for Tues October 3, October 24, Tues November 7th. If you are new to Reading Assistant, this will be held in November. 

Registration for all sessions are in the Staff Development Calendar (in the Learn Portal). 

Being Data Informed – Student Driven Conversations

Funny thing around data – when students are an intricate part of the conversation, it takes on a whole different meaning. Recently, I was facilitating one of our Joint Teams (LSS/Classroom partners and Learning Technologies) with a focus on supporting learners with written output challenges. There were several tools that provide significant success for  students. These I’ll write about at a later date. What really intrigued me was the rising conversation from teachers about the connections to communicating student learning. I had shared how we could use audio and images as a enhancer for students to record their understandings and how important it was to have snapshots of these over time to reflect. As these take advantage of a digital realm, the use of a place like our “student blogfolios” rose as a consideration. This allows a student to share and hold their story in the digital world, opening the door to a range of possibilities: 

  • access anytime anywhere by participants
  • collaborative feedback in an organized manner
  • connected communication between student, parent, teacher (of course anytime, anywhere)
  • historic snapshots of whole child learning processes

Knowing your “why” aids in this journey. Without any advertising, our Learning Technologies team have seen this expand exponentially (yes we really only started last year with a small pilot). The implications are huge as we attempt to work through what it means to communicate deep learning in different ways, to empower students to own their voice and story, to share these breakthroughs with parents in a way that allows for dialogue. 

If you are interested in this, please contact any member of the Learning Technologies team or go straight to our FORMS page to apply.  

Know Your “Why”

child-646149_640Recently we had session 2 of our Communicating Learning via ePortfolios Team. When I wrote up this session to post for the group, it struck me that these thoughts applied to everyone especially at a time when we’re all focused on assessment, report cards and all the things that come with the process. 

  • Learning is doing
  • Learning starts with the learner’s own ideas
  • Learning involves getting personally involved
  • Questions drive learning and are also outcomes of learning
  • Learning involves uncovering complexity
  • Learning can be a group process and a group outcome
  • Learning and thinking can be made visible

How might these ideas affect the way you approach a Fast ForWord learning environment, an assessment environment or what this means to think well (critically, creatively)? If you know your “why”, it’s easier to frame the assessment. I’m especially captivated by “questions drive learning and are also outcomes of learning”. Not the teacher’s questions but student’s questions. 

We’d love to have your thoughts on this through the comment feature here. 

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Summer Time

One thing we’re always doing is reflection. The end of year offers a chance to review our year and think about next steps. What is front and center is the work you’ve all done to support students. In whatever role you do, our students are the heart and center of everything. It is why we do what we do.

With great gratitude for your energy and efforts but mostly for your care…

There is much research on the brain’s need for downtime to solidify pathways, to reorganize itself, to sandboxencourage creativity. While the brain is never idle, in this fast-paced society it is important to shift gears. What better time than summer? What are you going to do to care for yourself?

It’s time to play in the sandbox, out of the sandbox, travel the world or maybe be a tourist in your own city. Whatever your summer sandbox looks like, have fun.