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 encourage 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.
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?
We just finished a districtwide Pro-D, where for the first time we squeezed 2000 people into one building. So parking was quite hairy and the deluge of rain didn’t help matters. Once inside, the atmosphere was positively electrifying (thanks to the facilitators and participants). Our opening started with North’s own Viking marching band, keynote Abe Fernández (Director of Collective Impact, the Children’s Aid Society and Co-director of South Bronx Rising Together) and then hundreds of workshops and ‘edcamp-ish’ conversations to choose. My team of three led four sessions – a crazy rewarding day of connected energy.
Here are some things I learned:
Building community and togetherness is everything even though the only building that can handle the numbers is a very old one! Crossed our fingers as fuses blew…but all was wonderfully organized. North’s school staff and students were amazing!
New experiences have to be connected to what you understand and then move from there
Individuals make personal conscious decisions to learn new things. What is ultimately worth learning is difficult and messy. It takes courage to make the leap.
Sometimes people will try something only because they know you will support them
When you see something with a new lens, you can never go back
Pro-D, while meant as a learning experience, is really an event. How will you carry these ignited sparks and these challenges to thinking into your classrooms and offices? That’s where the magic happens.
There are a number of assistive-type softwares that may help students with access to learning in the classroom. The following focuses on writing, reading, and vision supports. Most are free and can be easily downloaded by the student.
EASE of ACCESS: This group of tools offers simple word prediction through the on-screen keyboard, magnifier (for vision support)… Click here for instructions. Note the different ways to gain access whether you are a teacher or student.
SpeakIt: Google Chrome extension that provides text-to-speech for most web content. Has a range of voices and languages to choose. Options are available to adjust the speaking rate and pitch of voice. This is a good one!
ClaroSpeak: Google Chrome extension is a simple text-to-speech reader with word prediction, editing, proofing and speaking dictionary. There is also a more powerful paid app for ipads that includes access to pdf.
Rewordify: This is a site that I’ve written about before and is well worth repeating. (Click here for previous post) Any text can be pasted into the box and it will return a simplified version – very quickly I might add. One of the options deserves highlighting. Retaining the original word within the text, while offering a simpler form provides two things: increase of comprehension and increase of vocabulary. Sitting side by side, relationships between the difficult term and easier one is visually connected. As well, the integrated dictionary allows access to almost all of the words in the selection. Finally, the content can be printed and stored.
Word Talk on MSWord: Text-to-Speech toolbar is part of computer images (click on the tab, ADD-INS). This toolbar provides reading support as well as a simple word prediction dictionary.
Kidspiration and Inspiration(graphic organizer to writing): While this is not technically assistive software, it does have a sound recorder that can support memory or as an audio file embedded within the graphic organizer. The recorder will also show up in Outline Writing view. This provides a seamless process from ideas generation to written output. All sd41 teachers can have a personal full copy of the software for home use. (See our FORMS page for information on TAKE-HOME software.)
Kurzweil 3000: This software is the cadillac of assistive softwares. It will read almost any digital information (print, electronic, pdf or the Web) in clear, synthetic speech, while a dual highlighting feature adds visual reinforcement. This provides a digital means of engaging with text and supports those students who require alternative methods for accessing, writing and recording information. Click here for more information.
iWordQ-CA ($29): This is an ipad app that mimics a simple version of what you would expect from the more robust Kurzweil 3000. In writing mode, text editor includes word prediction, spell checker, dictionary and speech recognition. In reading mode, text-to-speech offers proofing and reading options.
Add language keyboards to Win7 devices – access other languages through added keyboards. Click here for instructions.
Do you have any favourites that integrate with reading or writing? Drop a comment in the box below. I’d love to add to the list.
February 1st is the 32nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar, the day before Groundhog Day, the day (1920) of the newly established Royal Canadian Mounted Police. But more importantly, it is the official launch of our Digital Citizenship Initiative (K-7).
While some may hone in on the word, “digital” implying that it is related to computer lab activities or technology classes, we suggest it is plain “Citizenship”. And everyone is responsible for learning and modeling citizenship (both in-person and online). At the heart of this, resides the core values and beliefs that we all hold. This in turn, drive our behaviours and actions.
Citizenship is fully integrated in the new curriculum. It is embedded in the Core Competencies of Personal and Social competency. As well you will find targeted Curricular Competencies in every curriculum including the latest draft Applied Design, Skills and Technologies.
Lesson launches are provided as starting points for teachers and students. As well, there is a FOR PARENTS area to explore at home with family. Keeping open communication is key to understanding how one lives and learns in all the environments we encounter. Schools have been invited to participate and share their class stories through school websites, principal newsletters, home communications, and PAC meetings. We are in this journey together.
For classes, there is an added bonus – a monthly DC contest starting this month. Hop on over to the Digital Citizenship Contest page or click on the DC button found on your school’s website for information. We sincerely hope you’ll join us as we learn together.
We’d love to hear stories that you may wish to share. Please leave a comment below.