2 New Picture Books My Daughter Loves

  "A picture book is a small door to the enormous world of the visual arts, and they're often the first art a young person sees." ~ Tomie dePaola   I've written in previous blog posts that I wasn't really a reader when I was younger. The only thing I read, other than what I had to, was Sports Illustrated. It's not that I was interested in reading, I just had other things that were more important to me, like playing outside. Do I wish I read more when I was younger? Of course I do. It's one of my many regrets! I know how important it is to read aloud to your children. I learned that from Jim Trelease and "The Read Aloud Handbook ." That's why I try to find the best picture books for my daughter so that I can help support her growth as a reader. Knowing...
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Your Literacy Toolbox

  "If we talk about literacy, we have to talk about how to enhance our children's mastery over the tools needed to live intelligent, creative, and involved lives." ~ Danny Glover   One of my favourite professional books on literacy is "The Read-Aloud Handbook" by Jim Trelease. It's a fascinating read about how the power of simply reading aloud to your child is one of the most powerful things you can do to support literacy. It's a must read for every parent and teacher. However, when we talk about literacy in school there are many more aspects to a balanced literacy program that teachers need to develop in order to support the variety of learners in their class. I've always been a person who believes that teachers need to use every tool in their toolbox, or find new tools, in order to support all students. We should leave no stone...
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Fact-React with Adobe Voice

"Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important." ~ Bill Gates I struggled with a title for today's post. It's really not about the fact-react strategy with Adobe Voice so much as it is about a teacher willing to step out of her comfort zone to try new things and ending up with amazing results. Especially at this time of year when it's difficult to keep the focus on learning what I have been witness to over the last couple of weeks is inspiring.  This year our school was fortunate to welcome Stephanie to our school. A fantastic teacher and former literacy coach that I have known for many years. Stephanie is the kind of teacher that students, parents and administrators dream of having. She is a teacher that takes her job seriously. She loves to...
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When Your Child Begins to Read it's Magical!

  The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go ~ Dr. Seuss   I've been a witness to children learning to read. It's a special time for a teacher when that "light bulb" goes off and a student begins to read. Teachers couldn't be more proud of their students, and rightfully so. But it's different when it's your own child. It's magical!  My 21 month old daughter Zoe is probably like most other children her age. She's active, jumps from activity to activity, loves to repeat some of her favourite things over and over and she laughs at almost anything. She also loves to listen to books for short periods of time, especially "The Wheels on the Bus" and "Zoe's Snow Day". When she was younger she absolutely loved the books you could take in the tub that...
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Reading is More Than Just Reading

Yes, you read the title correctly, but let me explain. Yesterday I had a brief conversation with our Reading Support Teacher (RST) about her observations during a Literature Circle discussion she had with a group in grade 5. It immediately had me reflecting on my classroom experiences with Literature Circles. For those of you who haven't heard of the concept of Literature Circles check out Harvey Daniels website , or just google it. Basically it's adult book club for kids. Lots of reading, lots of talking. There are many aspects involved in implementing Literature Circles that I won't write about today, but what I loved most were the "roles" students took that allowed everyone an opportunity to shine. The roles I used were: Word Wizard - discovering special words in the text Discussion Director - leading the group during conversation, developing conversation guiding questions Artful Artist - creating a picture...
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Student Created Videos

As I watched students this week creating videos for a district wide competition I decided to come up with a list of the benefits of integrating video creation into the curriculum. Engages students in the writing process - Before getting their hands on cameras and computers students storyboard the scenes they plan on having in their movie.  They write scripts, develop the narration and acting prompts for each scene.  Together they edit, revise and map out the direction of their movie. Problem Solving - Even after writing, editing and revising their initial copy, students will encounter issues with their original plans.  This is a great opportunity to be creative on the fly, adding to their creations. Models the process professionals go through - One of the most powerful, real-life stories I tell students is that of published author Eric Wilson, a former teacher who wrote stories for his students. They...
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Cursive Writing - Old School or Important Skill?

During my first assignment as a vice principal I have had the pleasure of attending Home and School meetings largely attended by a small dedicated group of hardworking mothers. Although the primary focus of these meetings are generally based around fundraising activities there are the occasional discussion around pedagogy and curriculum.  One of the most interesting conversations I had with a parent was around the idea of cursive writing.  Anyone who knows me will know that I enjoy a debate so I was happy to engage the parent around the importance of keyboarding skills in today's world.  Now I didn't have a strong opinion about cursive writing in the curriculum, but I certainly felt that keyboarding was the more important of the two skills.  That was until I read an article from Education Week titled "Summit to Make a Case for Teaching Handwriting".   As I read the article, the importance...
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Digital Storytelling

Over the last couple of months I have been working with an intermediate teacher who is very keen on using technology in the classroom and in particular the use of video. During our conversations on how to implement this technology in his curriculum I was drawn back to a very engaging presenter that came to Thames Valley back in 2007.  In the early part of 2006, during my time  as a Learning Coordinator for Technology many teachers had expressed in interest in the idea of Digital Storytelling in the classroom.  As a group of Learning Coordinators we decided to find an expert in the field that could help us explore the concept.  This led us to Jason Ohler .  The idea that really excited us about his message was the DAOW of Literacy - how oral and written storytelling using art to create digital stories are key literacy skills that...
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