Together is better…

I felt very privileged to begin the new year fueled by a tremendous workshop with Adrienne Gear, the author of Reading Powers. Adrienne is funny, honest, upbeat, a brilliant speaker and even more brilliant teacher. I could go on and on about the workshop itself, her fabulous storytelling, her sound reasoning, her clear instruction, her endless arsenal of ideas, and her many wonderful book recommendations.

flickr cc photo by Voj

flickr cc photo by Voj

But what really excited me about the workshop was the promise of working together. Attending with so many other teachers from my school provided us with an opportunity to consider how we can work together to implement the Reading Power approach in our school. Adrienne emphasized the importance of common language. She said “What matters most is that everyone on your staff is using the same words.” Sitting in that auditorium with my colleagues while listening to Adrienne, I couldn’t help thinking how lucky I am to be working with such a dedicated team.

flickr cc photo by rogiro

flickr cc photo by rogiro

Teaching is a big job. It is too big to ‘go it alone’. And so coming together around an approach, such as Reading Powers, gives me hope that we can work together successfully for our students.

Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is a process.
Working together is success.
(Ford in Foofat and Pollock, 1993)

IMG_2521
In fact, I think teamwork is the ingredient that really has me excited about my new position as one of two K/1 teachers at my school this year. I am team teaching with Mrs. M. this year. We both have K/1’s and intend on parallel planning and some sharing of lessons and regrouping of kids to allow for more personalized instruction.

And already I can tell, together is better. I know I am not alone. In fact, better than that… I know I have a supporter, a side-kick, a partner–someone to bounce ideas off of, to share observations and assessments with, to plan and prepare with, and to engage in meaningful conversations and reflections about our kids and our teaching.

flickr cc photo by Linnea Grondalen

flickr cc photo by Linnea Grondalen

I wonder what advice others who have been in a team teaching situation might have for Mrs. M and I as we embark on this journey together?? Would love to hear from you!

August 10 for 10: A Picture Book event…

“If you were stranded on an island and had to teach,
what 10 picture books would you hope to have in your bag?”

cc flickr photo by Mrs eNil

cc flickr photo by Mrs eNil

This blogging challenge posed by Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek posted on Twitter caught my attention and really got me thinking!

A self-described bookworm, a bookaholic even, I am constantly browsing, buying, borrowing, and resisting books in used book stores, new bookstores, garage sales, friends’ bookshelves, the library, online, and in the Scholastic bookorders at school. I have shelves upon shelves of books, two classroom libraries (one intermediate and one primary) and I’ve only been  teaching for 8 years!

BookLove

cc flickr photo by Eric M Martin

How on earth will I choose my top 10 favourite picture books??? It wasn’t easy. I mean even if I narrowed it down to my top 10 favourite math picture books, it would have been excruciating. I found it hard to choose between some of my all time fave classics and some newer reads I wanted to rave about. Truly, I’m not even sure my top 100 would have come easily. Needless to say, I waffled back and forth on more than a few…

In the end, I think I’ve chosen a top 10 that is diverse in theme, copyright date, and interest. They are in no particular order, as I could not bring myself to rank them, given that it was a miracle I whittled the list down to 10 in the first place. But here is my list (… for today, at least):

10.) Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion, by Jane Barclay

ProudAsAPeacock I found this rare gem just before Rembrance Day last year.  This tender story is told through the interactions between a young boy and his grandfather. Curious about why his grandfather went to war, the little boy ask questions as ‘Poppa’ gets ready for the veteran’s parade. ‘Poppa’ recalls how he was as proud as a peacock in his uniform, as busy as a beaver during the Atlantic crossing, and as brave as a lion going into battle. When the boy learns of the friend that his ‘Poppa’ lost in the war, he offers his own imagery, saying “Elephants never forget”. The old man replies “Then let’s be elephants.” This book is a touching story told in simple, but beautiful prose. It touches the heart and speaks across the generations about the difficult and rarely broached topic of war. The images in the book are riveting: muted watercolour illustrations of the past, and the hazy, dream-like animal imagery, both reflect the somber tone of the book, while the bolder coloured poppies and images of present day provide a hopeful message.

9.) The Little House,  by Virginia Lee Burton

LittleHouseA classic! Though over 60 years old, this charming tale of the little country house that watches the days pass by, only to find herself soon surrounded by an encrouching city, still captivates young readers’ imaginations and holds a relevant message for those slightly older about the effects of urbanization. Amazon.com states that “Children will be saddened to see the lonely, claustrophobic, dilapidated house, but when a woman recognizes her and whisks her back to the country where she belongs, they will rejoice.” A fairytale style story, The Little House, has an enduring message that “there is no place like home.”  The folksy illustrations are enchanting and delight readers of all ages with the detail, animation, and colour!

8.) the dot, by Peter H. Reynolds

TheDotAn inspiring story with an ageless appeal and powerful message!  When Vashti declares “I CAN’T DRAW!”, her teacher encourages Vashti to “just make a mark and see where it takes you.” Framing the dot Vashti has drawn for all to see, the teacher inspires her to draw dots of all shapes and sizes. Soon there is no stopping Vashti and she begins to inspire confidence in others. I use this book at the start of the school year. It reinforces the idea that each of us is creative and sets the expectation of effort and imagination over correctness and convention. The marvelously quirky illustrations are created from a unique blend of media: watercolour, ink, and tea!

7.) Miss Nelson is Missing, by Harry G. Allard

MissNelson“Rarely has the golden rule been so effectively interpreted for children.” (Booklist, ALA ) This funny, engaging tale begins with the kids in Room 207. They are the worst behaved class in the whole school. They are loud and rude to one another and they do not listen to their kind and gentle teacher, Miss Nelson.  One day Miss Nelson does not come to school. A mean and cruel subsitute, Ms. Viola Swamp, is sent in place of Miss Nelson. Soon the kids in Room 207 are missing sweet Miss Nelson, but she is nowhere to be found. A little clever detective work will find some clues throughout the book that point to the whereabouts of Miss Nelson. It is always fun to see the lightbulbs turn on as the kids figure these out! A fun, humourous story with entertaining pictures and a moral!

6.) The Bugliest Bug, by Carol Diggory Shields

Buggliest

A favourite in my classroom this year! The Bugliest Bug offers a marvelous blend of lively rhymes, kid-pleasing humour, fun facts, and vivid illustrations. When the “Bugliest Bug” contest is held in the swamp, all the insects are so busy showing off, that only a young damselfly, Dilly, notices something odd about the sinister-looking judges–they have wings strapped to their backs… They are not insects, but arachnids! Dilly alerts the bugs and heroically oganizes the bugs to fight back, using each of their special talents: the ants march, the mantises pray, and the stink bug finishes the job! Though small and seemingly lacking in special talents, Dilly’s quick thinking saves the day. And yes, someone is awarded the honour of “bugliest bug!”

5.) Chalk, by Bill ThomsonChalk

This masterfully illustrated, wordless picture book is a simple, but exhilarating and clever story that reminds us of the power of imagination. When three friends find an ordinary bag of sidewalk chalk on the playground, the discovery results in far from ordinary drawings. Finding that their drawings will come to life, the children chase the rain away by drawing a sunshine and marvel when the butterfly they sketch launch into the sky. It is all very pleasant and fun… until someone draws a dinosaur!  Chalk is a great tool for a lesson on inferencing, a lesson on reading pictures, or as a writing hook. Vibrant, realistic, and detailed, the acrylic and colour pencil drawings lend to the dramatic quality of the book.

4.) Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy, by Jacki Davis

LadybugGirlA sequel to Ladybug Girl, this companion book does not disappoint! Lulu meets her friend Sam on the playground, but they each have a different idea of fun and cannot agree on what to play. When Lulu suggests playing “Ladybug Girl,” a game involving superpowers, Sam is intrigued! As Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy, Lulu and Sam save the playground, using their imaginations! Davis takes the everday challenges that kids face and provides a humourous and understanding account that kids relate to, as well as important lessons about the importance of working together and the power of inclusion. The colourful, expressive cartoon illustrations are a delightful complement to the text. This won’t be the last of the Bug Squad!

3.) Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen

OwlMoon

Few picture books can captivate both child and parent the way that Owl Moon can. With songlike prose and stunning illustrations, this touching tale brings to life a magical, nighttime adventure. A simple story of a wintery evening stroll, it depicts the wonderment of childhood and the special relationship between father and daughter on their search for a great-horned owl. It is pure anticipation, hope, and belief that keeps readers of all ages turning the pages of this enchanting tale.  “As expansive as the broad sweep of the great owl’s wings and as close and comforting as a small hand held on a wintry night . . . The visual images have a sense of depth and seem to invite readers into this special nighttime world.” (School Library Journal)

2.) The Lady in the Box, by Ann McGovern

LadyInBoxA heartwarming and disarmingly honest depiction of homelessness, The Lady in the Box is told from the perspective of Ben, the youngest of two siblings. When Ben and his sister encounter a woman living in a box, over the heating grate, outside the Circle Deli, they bend their mother’s rule about not talking to strangers to try to help the “lady in the box.” The story sheds light on a very real issue in a way that children can understand and relate to. It carries an inspiring message of hope and reminds us that small kindnesses can make a difference. The realism of the story is enhanced by beautiful oil painting illustrations that capture the tone and emotion of every scene, portraying the human side of homelessness.

1.) Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

WhereTheWildThings

Likely one of my oldest and all-time favourites, Where the Wild Things Are, is a true classic! Young and old relate, as “Sendak presents an image of children not as sentimentalized little dears but as people coping with complex emotions such as anger, fear, frustration, wonder, and awareness of their own vulnerability.” (Children’s Literature) The story begins when Max gets into mischeif and his mother sends him to his room with no dinner. Angry and frustrated, Max imagines that he sails away to a land where he is made king of the Wild Things. Tired of being wild, Max returns to the comfort and peace of his bedroom, where his dinner is waiting and still hot! The vibrant images add to the whimsical wonderment of this familiar tale!

Thanks for the challenge, Cathy & Mandy… it was formidable, but fun!
I am very excited to see the choices that others have made and
to hopefully add a few more books to my wishlist
(…and to my shelves–but please don’t tell my husband!)

Asking ‘why’ more often…

cc flickr photo by e-magic

cc flickr photo by e-magic

“He who has a why can endure any how.”
~~Neitzsche~~

A week into August and my mind is abuzz with ideas, plans, and questions about the coming school year. I am eager to get started, excited to meet my kidlets, keen to try new things, and yet nervous about how it will all unfold.

I am constantly striving to improve my practice, to be a better teacher, to find a better way. I want to find strategies, tools, and approaches that will address the needs of each of my kids, engage them in meaningful learning experiences, and help them to grow and flourish as unique individuals. To do this, I know it is important to clarify and articulate my philosophy of learning, to align my philosophy with my practice, and to be intentional and thoughtful in my choices.

“He who is afraid of asking is ashamed of learning.”
~~Danish proverb~~

This summer, Twitter has provided a new space for me to find ideas, strategies, and tools, and to reflect upon my practice, to rethink my philosophy, and to consider my choices.  For example, just this morning, I stumbled upon @NancyTeaches‘ blog post, Want Children to Love Reading, then Throw Away the Reading Logs. A short time later, I found myself following a conversation between @Grade1 @soltauheller @maxxakahotdog @FlyontheCWall @MrMacnology on Twitter #daily5 about the ellimination of reading logs…. Then tonight, I read @michellek107‘s post, Why I blog.

cc flickr photo by crystaljingsr

cc flickr photo by crystaljingsr

My tweeps challenged my thinking and brought my current practice into question. They encouraged me to reflect on my rationale for reading logs and to ponder new options. Their shared thinking inspired me to consider the importance of asking why more often.

Why do I assign reading logs? Why do I insist parents sign the logs? Why do I provide rewards for signed logs?  Unfortunately, if I am to be honest in my answers regarding the purpose of a few of my current strategies and approaches, these practices do not align with my philosophy of learning. I believe in honouring children, in responding to the needs of my kids, and in the power of inquiry-based, child-centred learning. In fact, if I am brutally honest, I think my answers to the above questions are one in the same, ‘Why?…Because that’s the way I was taught’. Ouch!! The truth hurts…

“Good questions outrank easy answers.”
~~Paul Samuelson~~

As @gcouros pointed out in a blogpost earlier in the summer, The Why, “the ‘why’ creates the opportunity to start with the end in mind.” He quoted Simon Sinek, from the Ted video on The Importance of Why, noting that “it is those that start with why have the ability to inspire others, or to find others that inspire them”.

And so as I plan and prepare for the new school year, I will try to focus on asking why more often, on starting with the end in mind, and on walking my talk. Afterall, actions speak louder than words…

I have definitely found others that inspire me! I feel privileged and grateful to have found a PLN that challenges me to reflect upon, clarify, and articulate my philosophy of learning; to align my philosophy with my practice; and to be intentional and thoughtful in my choices.

twitter_peeps

“If there is something to gain and nothing to lose by asking,
by all means ask!”
~~W.Clement Stone~~

Doing the ‘Splits’… A case for ‘Combined’ classes!

“Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.”
~~Colleen Wilcox~~

In my eight years of teaching, I have yet to teach a ‘straight’ grade. So far, all of my classes have been multi-age, orsplit’ classes. And each year, I have a parent/guardian who does not like the idea of their child being in a ‘split’ classes.

Some concerns and questions that are often raised:

  • Will my child be rushed/slowed down by the other grade level?
  • Will my child be taught curriculum/content they have already done the year before or they will have to re-do the following year?
  • Will my child be taught only half the curriculum?
  • How will my child be treated by those younger/older than him/her?
cc flickr photo by eleaf
cc flickr photo by eleaf

How do you respond to the folks who believe a ‘split’ class is detrimental to their child’s learning experience? Or to those who feel there will be lasting negative effects on their child’s academic or social development?

This Fall, I will once again be teaching a ‘split’ class. I have been assigned to teach a K/1 class. This is often a controversial  ‘split’, as many people associate kindergarten with play and grade one with academics. Some people find it difficult to imagine these two grades in one classroom and loath the thought of their child being ‘subjected’ to a ‘split’.

“Speech is the mirror of the soul; as a man speaks, so he is.”
~~Publilius Syrus~~

However, at a Full Day Kindergarten conference in May, keynote speaker, Colleen Politano encouraged us to change our language when discussing ‘splits’ and to focus on using terms with more positive connotations, such as ‘combined’ or ‘blended’. She implored teachers to highlight the benefits of multi-age groupings. I love this approach and resolved right then and there to use the terms ‘combined’ and ‘blended’ instead, as I set out to convince folks of the merits these multi-age classrooms!

cc flickr photo 'Typical' by Abi-Bee
cc flickr photo ‘Typical’ by Abi-Bee

Indeed, my own perspective on ‘split’ classes is quite positive. Perhaps that is because my first few years of school were in a two-room school house, in a small westcoast logging village, and I had a favourable experience in this multi-age setting.  Or perhaps it is because I have taught several multi-age classes in my short career, and I’ve done a lot of thinking (and even some previous writing) about combined classrooms.

I strongly believe that multi-age classrooms are not all that different from ‘straight’ grade classrooms. Any classroom with 15 to 30+ students is going to have a wide range of abilities and developmental levels! Diversity is expected. I also believe there are  many benefits to blended groups, and as I embark on the coming school year, I know that sharing positive messages about combined classrooms with parents, will be important.

cc flickr photo by ntr23
cc flickr photo by ntr23

I feel strongly that the keys to a successful combined classroom experience are :

  • differentiated instruction and thoughtful, ongoing feedback;
  • open communication with parents and students about the learning environment and each child’s learning progress;
  • a focus on skill development and process, rather than content coverage and product;
  • the use of project-based and inquiry learning;
  • and the  empowerment of students to take ownership of their learning.
cc flickr photo by courosa
cc flickr photo by courosa

These are goals for my own classroom this year. Certainly, I feel that if thoughtful, intentional designs and plans for the above are effectively implemented in a combined classroom (… or in any classroom, really!), there are many benefits of multiage groupings that will become apparent:

cc flickr photo by Kathy Cassidy

cc flickr photo by Kathy Cassidy

  • Effective multiage classrooms allow children to work at their own skill levels and to take ownership of their learning. Where the child could benefit from enrichment, they acquire the skills and resources to work independently. They are provided with opportunities to interact with others who push their thinking. When extra help is needed, there are opportunities to review concepts and skills, and to receive help from peers.
  • Effective multiage classrooms allow children to gain leadership and confidence. Kids learn to work together in mentoring relationships and use one another as resources, rather than relying only on the teacher. They gain a  sense of confidence from these opportunities to practice being leaders and role models.
  • Effective multiage classrooms recognize kids for their strengths in all areas of development and encourage friendships across grade levels. This builds community and instills a sense of responsibility to care for one another. Knowing children in different grades provides kids the opportunity to choose friends from a wider range of children.

cc flickr photo by Brenda Anderson
cc flickr photo by Brenda Anderson

How do you feel about combined classes? Have you had positive experiences with multiages groupings? Why or why not? What responses would you have for parent concerns about ‘split’ classes?

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
~~Anaïs Nin~~

Switching gears…

cc flickr photo from mindfulness

cc flickr photo from mindfulness

“Mindfulness is a certain way of paying attention
that is healing, that is restorative,
that is reminding you of who you actually are
so that you don’t wind up getting entrained into being a human doing
rather than a human being.”

~~Jon Kabat-Zinn~~

I don’t really remember June… or maybe even May. The last month or two of school was a complete blurr! I was running helter skelter, running willy nilly, running in a million different directions, and running around like a chicken with my head cut off! I didn’t stop running…

Now, three weeks into summer vacation, I’ve slowed down. It actually took me a couple of weeks to finally take my foot off the gas pedal. In those first two weeks of summer holidays, I had crammed in an awful lot of plans. But into the end of the second week and the third week, I really began to wind down.

And now that I’ve had time to think, time to read, time to have long talks with good friends, time to exercise and get out in the sunshine, time to prepare healthy meals, time to sit with my husband on the deck and eat those meals, time to plant and tend to my garden, and even time to do absolutely nothing….  as a result, I’m feeling like a human being again.

cc flickr photo by thebittenword

cc flickr photo by thebittenword

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing,
of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

~~Winnie the Pooh~~

Several colleagues in my PLN have recently written about the myth and the reality of a teacher’s “summer off”, considering it as both a perk and a necessity. And it got me thinking about the  educational calendar. Why do we still model our school year on the agrarian calendar? There are numerous arguments for and against the length of summer holidays, from retention to childcare to tax dollars. Is there a better model?

Like many other teachers, most of my summers since I started teaching I have worked at summer schools or day camps. And this summer, although I’m not working for pay, I’m still spending parts of this summer moving and setting up my classroom, attending conferences, going to a professional bookclub, reading professional literature, tweeting &  blogging, and meeting with colleagues to plan for the fall.

Certainly, working or not, for teachers summer is about switching gears and in our profession, switching gears is important. It allows for reflection, rejuvenation, reinvention, and restoration.

I often wonder how switching gears more often for shorter periods of time might work? Did you know there are schools in our province that are experimenting with a balanced calendar? How do you feel about an alternate calendar? Would it be beneficial to students? To teachers?

I’m not sure how I might answer these questions myself. But it is summer, and I have time to think on it…

cc flickr photo from horia varlan

cc flickr photo from horia varlan

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences,
and failing to achieve anything useful.”
~~Margaret Wheatley~~

Move it…

“Organizing is what you do before you do something,
so that when you do it, it isn’t all mixed up.”
~~ A.A. Milne~~

(as quoted in Spaces & Places, by Debbie Dillar)

moving

I am in the midst of moving classrooms. I can’t believe it is taking me so long to move down the hall into the Kindergarten classroom, which will be my room come this Fall. But, I find myself overwhelmed!

I am overwhelmed by stuff: My old stuff and the new stuff that comes with my new classroom, stuff I haven’t used for years, stuff that I have recently inherited, stuff that is probably not useful for a kindergarten classroom but that I can’t bear to part with… stuff, stuff, stuff. How did I acquire so much stuff?!?!?

I am overwhelmed by possibilities and by practicalities: My new room has a wall of windows, half carpet-half linoleum, a door to the outside, a kitchen, a bathroom, many over-sized pieces of furniture, and way more space than my last classroom, but less hidden storage space and fewer bookshelves. It will also have a SmartBoard. There are so many possible arrangements, possible configurations, possible storage solutions… and yet many limitations too.

I am overwhelmed by decisions: What do I keep? What do I toss? Where do I put it all? Do I really need all this furniture? Can I live without my desk? How can I make the best use of my new space? How can I ensure effective storage for easy retrieval? How can I make the classroom welcoming, safe, and comfortable? How can I organize it in a way that provides space for all the centres I have in mind?  How should I organize it to encourage discovery, play-based learning, and independence?

From Flickr (Creative Commons): Attributed to Ronn Ashore (Sailing)

From Flickr (Creative Commons): Attributed to Ronn Ashore (Sailing)

“The difference between a dream and a goal is a plan.”
~~Anonymous~~

(as quoted in Spaces & Places, by Debbie Dillar)

But as I find myself overwhelmed by stuff, possibilities, practicalities, and decisions, there are a few mantras and resources that help me to reflect, to stay grounded, to keep things in perspective, and to KEEP MOVING!

My Mantras:

  1. Think about instruction first, then plan for a space to make that happen. (Spaces & Places)
  2. Less is more. (Classroom Spaces that Work)
  3. If I haven’t used it in 2 years, I probably won’t: Recycle it, Give it away, or Toss it! (Classroom Spaces that Work)
  4. Use all ‘wasted space’ — get creative with storage solutions! (Spaces & Places)
  5. The organization of my classroom space is not permanent–it will change as I get to know my kids.
  6. Kids can take part in the design and organization process. If it is all ‘exactly the way I want it’ before the kids arrive, they won’t get to help make it ‘our’ classroom!
interior_design_classroom_by_jimf0390

From Flikr (Creative Commons): Attributed to jimf0390--Interior Design Classroom 3D

The environment can only make a difference if it is used by creative teachers…
Yet for many teachers their environment is still a blind spot: unchanging,
unchangeable and beyond their control –
an obstacle that they must work around, rather than a
tool to support and enhance their practice.
(Design Council, 2005b)

A Few Resources:

Inspired and intimidated…

This isn’t my first blog. But it sure feels like it…

bee-cartoon“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
~~Eleanor Roosevelt~~

Why does it feel like my first blog? Because I actually plan to share my blog with others! (I know, I know–‘What a concept!’) My previous blogging experiences were during my masters (…and I think only the professor read it!) and using a closed blog with my class last year.

Am I intimidated? YES, for sure!  But more importantly, I’m inspired!

I’m inspired by my students, who were so engaged and excited by the opportunities to utilize technology to create, to explore, and to connect with other classes and guest speakers via Skype and email this year. I’m inspired by my close friends and colleagues near and dear to me, who continue to push me and question “When are you going to start a class blog?”. But, most surprisingly (to me, anyhow!), I’m inspired by the phenomenal, like-minded, and passionate educators I’ve encountered on Twitter the past few months… people I have not even met!

And the day came when the risk
to remain tight in a bud was more painful
than the risk it took to blossom.
~~Anais Nin~~

IMG_0427

This is me... in Survival Mode! 2008/09

I’m not sure why I decided to check out Twitter again, after being an inactive Tweep since signing up about two years ago. In retrospect, although I was teaching at an online distance education school and pursuing my masters as an online distance education student, I think I didn’t really engage in Twitter at first, because I was fortunate to be in a situation that offered constant challenges, rich learning opportunities, and like-minded peers. Basically, I did not feel the need to reach beyond my face to face learning network.

Then the following year, after five years as an online distance education teacher, I was transferred to a bricks and mortar classroom through the downsizing process. At first, I was brimming with ideas about technology integration in the ‘regular’ classroom, but was taken aback by the challenges of returning to the classroom, working within a system I was disenchanted by, being apart from my group of like-minded peers, and trying to complete my masters while working full time.

There were too many challenges that first year. I was in survival mode, honestly! My first order of business was to acclimatize to a new school and new staff, to reacquaint myself with being face to face with students and parents on a daily basis, and to get some technology into my classroom!

“Never let the odds keep you from doing
what you know in your heart you were meant to do.”

~~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.~~

circleof learnersI did make some small steps that first year. When I arrived at my current school, several IWBs were sitting unused, gathering dust. I was inspired by the enthusiasm shown by some of my senior colleagues at this school, who were solitary in their integration of the boards. Together we formed a Learning Circle focused around an inquiry that explored the why and the how behind utilization of the boards to most effectively integrate technology. I began to get excited again about technology integration in the ‘regular’ classroom.

“Trust your own instinct.
Your mistakes might as well be your own,
instead of someone else’s.”
~~ Billy Wilder~~
twitter

Then this year, I was ready to get serious about technology integration in my classroom! Our Learning Circle grew to include other schools, I began stalking primary blogs and discussing with my colleagues the possibility of blogging with primary students. After a district Professional Development session with Alberta professor,  Alec Couros (@courosa), about building a Personal Learning Network (PLN), my interest in Twitter was reignited.

Strangely enough, it was a coincidental face to face meeting with a Twitter friend, Sarah (@soltauheller), that got me truly Tweeting. Over the last three months, I made a commitment to stop lurking and get tweeting. 450 tweets later, I am beginning to see the real benefits of Twitter. I was connecting with so many amazing educators, sharing resources and lessons, having meaningul discussions about issues that matter. I was inspired to stop making excuses and start risking again.

“We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal
and then leap in the dark to our success. ”
~~ Henry David Thoreau~~

Which bring me to this blog–my commitment, my challenge, my risk… my leap in the dark! 

This isn’t my first blog. But it sure feels like it…