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?
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.
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.
Recently 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.
In partnership with Ron Coleborn (Math consultant), we are pleased to announce two Math softwares available for teachers:
Dreambox Learning (Math)
Skoolbo (Math and Literacy basic skills) (Canadian version)
DreamBox is an online Math resource (K-8) intended to support personalized instruction for students from intervention to enrichment. The ongoing formative assessments within the program can align classroom practices and lessons creating a blended model of instruction. Some of our schools have been using the program in pilot and can share their stories. A small number of purchased student licenses are available. More information can be found on our Learning Technologies site (WEB RESOURCES > DREAMBOX LEARNING). Teachers who are interested may apply on our FORMS page.
Skoolbo (Canadian version)(K-5) is now available for those who are seeking practice in basic skills in Math or Literacy (building blocks). This is an online resource that provides a “game type” environment to hone basic skills. Create your avatar and the program can take you through the skillsets (based on a set of pre-tests). Or a teacher can assign specific content where practice is needed. This may enhance (RTI) Tier 2 and Tier 3 supports. We’ve registered all schools (elementary and secondary). More information can be found on our Learning Technologies site (WEB RESOURCES > SKOOLBO). Teachers who are interested may apply on our FORMS page for a class account.
Watch for a full launch in September. Perhaps I see a coordinated song and dance in the future?