“Citizenship” is Everyone’s Business

February 1st is the 32nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar, the day before Groundhog Day, digicit_relationshipsthe 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.

The Digital Citizenship Initiative has been divided into themes:

  • February – Relationships and Communication
  • March – Internet Safety
  • April – Footprints and Reputation
  • May – Cyberbullying
  • June – Credit and Copyright

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. DCcontest

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.

Learning Sessions – Making the Most of Fast ForWord

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Fall is definitely in the air – crisp, clean and clear.  For those of you starting Fast ForWord or returning after a break, we have set this year’s 3 part series:

  * October 15, October 27, December 1; 8:30-12:00 at Schou-TLC

Each session will build upon each other (from neuroscience basics, how the program fits, what it does, reading reports and implementing timely interventions).

*Please email me if you have not signed up (sd41). 

There are a host of topics on webinars that you may be interested in taking advantage (click here):  

  • 2015 Dyslexia Research and Remediation (October is Dyslexia Month)  
  • Literacy for ELL 
  • Autism: New Research and Interventions
  • Inside the Brain of the Struggling Reader

Connectedness & Relationships

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Welcome back. Exciting things are afoot… This month is all about connecting and relationship building. Behind every one of those faces are stories waiting to be heard.

Changes to both our infrastructure and Fast ForWord content is going to make this an exciting year. If you are interested in having this program in your building, please contact me (there will be training in October).  If you are a continuing site, here are some possibilities to consider:

  • new 3 day protocol with 40 minutes or 90 minutes available (*consider getting as close to 200 minutes/week as your goal for success). This may provide timetable flexibility to some sites.
  • new reports – detailing immediate achievement
  • Raz-Kids (our famous online support for reading fluency and comprehension) has changed its weblink and management look. New weblink is: kidsa-z.com (Please ensure that you have changed your links on class blogs and school websites.) This program is great for classroom teachers. Applications are found > FORMS
  • ARC-BC – register for a new year. Information and training: http://www.arc-bc.org/
  • New BC curriculum – get the latest to explore –  https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/

Celebrations

Around this time of year, the terms of celebration, myquote_celebrate_500reflection and sharing, become even more of a focus. It’s almost cyclical in nature. Beyond the “let’s have a party to showcase all the end products”, I wonder about the little things. Things like perseverance and tenacity and the courage to turn around and face the dragons of failure. I wonder how those are recognized and celebrated in such ways as to give them power. I wonder if we truly understand how much effort is needed for some of our students to acquire the smallest of steps (though mountains to them). I wonder if the students believe it when we congratulate them on achieving those steps. I wonder how we take that spark, started with determination and sometimes “downright fear” and lift it up so they can share their success in ways that help others grow and gives dignity to the learner.

I doubt there is one answer. Many ideas come to mind, past and present. While these may be overt and probably fun, they may yet capture the essence of the journey.  How do you grow and share the sparks?

When Opportunity and Resources Meet = Success Happens

newyear2015Connecting a ‘just right’ opportunity to engage in independent deeper thinking and a resource that allows that to happen is a challenge. When the two meet, it’s almost magical, especially when it can include students who struggle with reading and writing. For these, time is spent mostly on the mechanics of reading/writing, leaving little cognitive energy for deep thinking. While some resources require a strong commitment to mastering the tool (I’m thinking Kurzweil 3000 – still the master of all reading/writing supports – click here for information), others may offer similar experiences with less need for front-end learning.

I wrote about Rewordify before in a previous post so I won’t go into the ‘how to’s here.  Upon first blush, the online site may look rather simple. Dig a little deeper and you will find other layers worth exploring. Its basic premise is that 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. And finally, the content can be printed and stored.

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If you have not had a chance to explore this application, you may be surprised at how useful it can be for many students. It is free, though it requires access to the internet. (*Note: You do not need to register to use the site.)

Writing is another challenge that some of our students struggle to get their thoughts down on paper. While I believe that access to computers provides a wider range of choices, there is an application using ipads that offer a basic level of support with regards to word prediction and integrated reading (*this is not speech-to-text).  For those of you already using the computer version (you’ll see this as similar), GoQ Software has developed an ipad version. Named iWordQ Ca (I’ve been waiting for the Canadian spelling and French is included!), the cost of $25 may be worth it. iwordq_writeIt offers a very simple text editor (no images) for writing connected with anticipatory word prediction software. Definitions with examples, pop up with a tap of the finger. You can even add your own words into the lexicon thus including any specialized content vocabulary (think science, social studies). Typed words and sentences can be read back giving you a bit of quality control on the actual writing.   Reading mode gives the writer a chance to do some more proofreading as well as revision.  You might also use it for oral practice by speaking alongside the reading mode, if the end goal is a presentation. (*Note: Speech recognition is only found on the newer ipads. Need wifi access for this app to work.)
For those of you who know me really well, you’re waiting for why I like this app over the many that are out there. That can be seen in the Export feature – multiple ways. Writing is a complex form of communication needing opportunities to engage in a variety of other formats. iWordQ Ca can save files in the app, send to a Dropbox account as well as open in many other apps such as Google Drive! Our Google Apps for Education accounts marry nicely with this process, thus allowing for the inclusion of collaboration and dialogue, images, hyperlinks, charts or slides. Oh, did I forget printing too?

question mark personOur goals drive the use of any application. These apps add to the communication realm. However, I wonder if we should be asking wider questions such as… how will these serve to enhance deeper thinking processes, how will they create independence for the student, how will they bring connectedness and collaboration with classmates, how will they support self regulation?
Hope you get a chance to explore these or cause you to ask more questions. I’d love to hear how you’re using these applications or other apps in your classroom.