Welcome Back!

autumn-leavesStarting a new year is always exciting and this year cannot be any different. We’ve done some updates to the blog – please take time to familiarize yourself with the organization (you’ll find new consent templates, Admin section now under Program…). New training sessions (for new sites and any teachers new or nearly new to program) are set for October-December.

More importantly are the relationships and connections made with students, staff and parents. It is relationships that are the foundation to risk-taking. Relationships that serve to understand one another and support one another in facing joys and addressing challenges.  This is no different when using Fast ForWord. The program is only the program (though powerful on its own). It is being connected that promotes significant perseverance when faced with “mountains to climb”.

As we start this year, a ‘thank you’ to each of you for creating the conditions for connections, relationships, and risk-taking.

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Summer Thoughts

summerreadAs we go into the summer, a huge ‘thank you’ goes to teachers, students and parents.  To the students, you’ve practiced focus and attention and this is no easy feat. It takes hard work to build and exercise an efficient brain.  To our parents, you ensured your children had a good night’s sleep and a great breakfast.  These are all incredibly important for the exercise process to be successful.  To our teachers, you continually refined your practices to bring the best environments together to achieve optimum learning.  And all of this is built on the foundation of “connectedness”.  It is a partnership that makes this work,  and YOU MATTER in this journey together.

Some things to consider as we head into the warm summer months:

  1.  Relaxation is important to brain development and solidification of neuronal pathways as much as focused exercise. Do something different – it makes the brain happy.
  2. Go to the library and grab books just for pleasure (short ones, tall ones, ones with lots of pictures, ones that teach something new or weird)
  3. Some sites that offer ebook reading:
    Unite for Library (early literacy)  http://www.uniteforliteracy.com/
    We Give Books  http://www.wegivebooks.org/books
  4. Create something – this uses different parts of the brain (they like working together).

Recently published from MIT neuroscience lab, is research on how the brain uses synchronization to form new communication circuits. (Synchronized Brain Waves Enable Rapid Learning) What I find interesting is what happens when the brain runs out of memory space when using rote memorization. Many students that struggle with reading use sheer power of memorization as their only strategy. This is only effective until they reach their limit. The research suggests that category formation between regions offers a way beyond rote memorization. I’m seeing a connection to why we practice forming categories while learning. Something to ponder… What do you think?

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New Beginnings

A huge welcome to our new sites – South Slope, Marlborough, Buckingham, Burnaby South Access Program and Moscrop Access Program.  A great time of learning with all teams and we continue to have more gatherings in the near future to continue the conversation of supporting our students.

The days of January have been whizzing by, partly due to the start of another term and partly due to our wonderful west coast weather.  Having some sun certainly invites a bit more energy in the steps as well as some hopeful signs of spring just around the corner.

Did you know that February 5th is  “Digital Learning Day“?  Although we know that many of you already use technologies in seamless ways, this is a day designed to invite you to further participate in a little something special. Maybe it’s a connection with a tool that allows for adaptation to happen on the spot allowing a full experience for students in class. Perhaps you may incorporate “text-to-speech” tools for those needing support in reading challenging texts or access ARC-BC for texts for Kurzweil. The flip to that would be “speech-to-text” tools for those writers struggling in written work. How about the use of QR codes (audio form) to showcase/share your work with books.  What about questions you post out using Soundcloud. This month’s Learning Technologies newsletter is full of ideas for you to ponder and put into action.  Consider celebrating the day with a little something special.  Drop me a line and share your story.

Since I’m a huge fan of Peter Reynold‘s work, I love how he captured the ideas for digital learning. It just looks so inclusive!

Peter Reynolds
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App #4 of “10 Apps to Countdown Season”

App #4:  “I hate Google Docs!” stated a student in an advanced writing class.  The teacher being stunned by this emphatic state turned my way with a “now what!” look.  After probing, it became clear that this writer liked the thesaurus dictionary in MSWord.  A quick introduction to online visual dictionaries opened a whole different world not only to the group but also for the teacher in expanding to other classes. Here are two of my favourites:

lexipedia

Lexipedia provides a visual display connection of words (nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and relationships fuzzynyns, synonyms, antonyms).  Hovering over the term offers a definition.  More importantly, this tool has an embedded audio option of the text. You can see a definite plus for those students who need this type of support.

visuwords

 

Visuwords, another online visual dictionary uses colours and a variety of line shapes to define relationships  and connections much like a concept map. Type a word in the box and see the connected terms come alive.

What are your favourite tools for expanding vocabulary in writing?

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App #3 of “10 Apps to Countdown Season”

app_bookcreatorApp #3:  What happens when you bring together an ipad, an app, words, thoughts, and sound?  Why Book Creator of course. This app for the ipad is a thing of beauty when it comes to creating ebooks.  Images can be drawn or photographed and inserted along with text.  As well, audio can enhance both the background environment and allow student voice. ibooks_shelf

Several options are available for the published copy – email, export as pdf, sent to iBooks shelf or opened via other online apps.

Imagine using Book Creator to merge your research projects, collaborate on a writing series, produce an e-portfolio, create library bank of work for others to read. I think there might be a “passion project” in this?

How would you use this app?