Tag: boys literacy

Nov-Dec Newsletter Out in the World

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Our November-December newsletter is now published.  Read what’s new and exciting in our district.   As well, you might not have been aware that you can take advantage of purchasing MS Office at home (for only $11).
Or select the tab > News to find all issues.

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To find all previous NEWS, select the tab > News

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Book Love

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Book Love by Penny Kittle shares stories on how readers develop depth, stamina and passion. Though written with adolescents in mind, the message is absolutely appropriate for elementary age. She states that the path to difficult reading begins with books that students enjoy. To build capacity for reading requires practice and lots of it to build stamina. This reminds me of exercise. Anyone who’s tried distance running can attest to the need of gradually increasing exercise over time. Building stamina to get over that hill and then add another hill the following week takes energy and committed focus.

Kittle does a great job of offering strategies integrated into the day to achieve the desired effect – passion for reading.  A great read for those who are interested in supporting the reading process.


Reading The Impossible

Many of you have asked me if there is support for those who struggle with reading digital content especially when it is written above instructional reading levels.  Every time a class attempts research out on the web, students are faced with information they cannot comfortably read. For the brain to have enough neuronal resources to devote to comprehension they must be able to read at their independent reading level (*that’s an extremely high accuracy rate).

A handy site [no downloading] that I’ve shared is Rewordify.  This online tool allows you to copy a text or website link into a box area.  It locates and converts difficult words into more commonly understood words.

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 For example, I copied/pasted the definition of “Autumn”.  Rewordify highlights the difficult words in purple and inserts the common words in yellow. rewordify_result

Additional features in Settings, offers some ability to customize.

Differentiation is attained without losing sight of the original text.  You can even work on building vocabulary at the same time!  Let me know what you think and how you’ve used it in your classes.

 


Access Raz-Kids Through iPad

razkidsSome news that I’ve been waiting for from Learning A-Z, which will offer increased flexibility – Raz-Kids has launched their app for ipad!  Students can now access our Raz-Kids accounts from the ipad.  You should use a headset [the speaker jack from your headset goes into the jack on the top of the ipad].  The recordings can be done with the ipad mic, rather than the mic attached to the headset.  However, consider using the program in a quiet spot as sound will travel. Our test run produced very good results.  What was interesting – it was still easier for teachers to manage activities and report documentation through the computer.   More information on the program can be found on our site – click here.

If you are interested in accessing Raz-Kids, please email our Learning Technologies team.   If you have previous experience with Raz-Kids and would like to be a part of our journey in supporting students in Tier 1-2, please apply here.


A Year of Discovery

It’s June and I’m really not sure what happened to this year.  The ten months prior have whizzed by and here we are again.  I wanted to take this moment to share some reflections of the year and try to put things into perspective.

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Our Writers Workshop folks grappled with ideas related not only to what it means to be a writer but also what it means to be a writer on digital spaces.  Perhaps this arena requires a different set of skills, a different strategy to communication. Thank you to those who took the steps to question and ponder, to test the waters with our Google Apps for Education and to discover how this online environment allows for flexibility, choice, and deeper dialogue. We all grew from the journey.

blog-worldThis year we saw more teachers and administrators enter the realm of blogging or some kind of web presence.  Some started with a desire to share exciting events and learning in the school, others took up the challenge of using the space for their students to create their digital voice and footprint on the world.  Class accounts provided opportunities for these voices to grow in crafting their communication to wider audiences. How exciting for us to watch this growth over the year. Digital footprint portfolios!

online-writing-communityWhat happens if we offered a dedicated laptop and projector to a teacher to develop an inquiry idea? I can say that wonderful sparks happened.  In one class I observed such engagement and “shining eyes” (Benjamin Zander’s words) that I was blown away by the focused level of dialogue as students discussed their work.  Thank you for showing determination, persistence and purposeful actions to deepen practices.

balancing rocksWhat if you asked a group of secondary teachers to reach high and envision big! You get an inquiry team regardless of subject, who dreams big, reaches big and actions big. This small group from across multiple schools dove into strategies like standards-based assessment or flip classroom or refining questioning, all through seamless use of technologies.  Little did I know that excitement from this group meant that they were driven to share not only in their schools but to share their discoveries by rotating meetups at most of the secondaries where everyone was invited to drop in. What I took away from each of these added sessions was the power of collaborative conversation; conversation that started with honest sharing experiences (with all its bumps) and circled with audiences asking questions and challenging the notions. Back and forth until clarity was reached and what we thought we knew to be true of these strategies and environments was worked and reworked.  What I learned was the courage it took for these teachers to “risk big” not only privately but publicly in front of their colleagues.  In doing so, they shared the greatest gift, the gift of possibility.

headset_icon2Our Fast ForWord teams saw a boost and challenge in the delivery of this Tier 3 intervention program.  The move to an online environment meant that more schools were added, more students were included.  Teaching teams were challenged with a new approach in supporting reading achievement and student motivation each time we met as a group and during site visits. It was yet another humbling experience to watch the dedication and intense energy of this group of educators as they supported their students. One student stated “all I ever want is to learn to read”.  He came extra early to school to make sure he could get in his session. After years of struggle, he is well on his way. But more than anything it was the connection of a teacher who believed he could.

These are only a small number of the projects we were so privileged to be a part of the learning.  I truly believe  that what we lived was an experience in how we view the world, to live into the possibility, and grow beyond what we imagined.  We found champions who were there in our corners to bounce ideas, to challenge our thinking and to help us “dare greatly“.  As another year comes to a close, I leave you with Rita Pierson who spoke at TED – “Every Kid Needs a Champion”.
THANK YOU for being the champions of our students.


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