I have always been an avid reader. I think it’s in my blood. If you’d ask me to draw a picture of my grandmother, it would be of her sitting on the couch, or on a chair, anywhere, with a book in her hand. Her purse always seemed extra heavy when I’d pick it up, because there was inevitably at least one novel tucked inside. The many bookshelves, drawers and cabinets throughout her house were packed to the brim with books. So I think I come by it naturally.
Reading is what I always make time for as part of my self-care and well-being. And I always strive to get my students to develop their own love of reading as well. I wrote this latest blog post sharing the Book Tasting activity I did with my class. I wanted to share some resources with parents and students to help them find those “just right” books, that meet the interest level AND reading level of each individual child.
I created the following screencast, which was also uploaded to the blog, to walk parents through the process of searching for the best books for their child, or checking to see if a book is appropriate for their child to read independently, using Accelerated Reader Bookfinder.
I wholeheartedly believe that students should feel free to read what interests them. I also recognize that while some books may be appealing to students, the vocabulary used can cause frustration, which is the opposite of what one should feel when they read. With this tool, if a child wants to read a book outside their ZPD, they can always look for other ways of reading that book, such as with an audiobook or reading together with a parent.
I have made screencasts before, however never on a Chromebook. So my first step was to find a compatible program. I ended up using Screencastify which has a free add-on for Chrome. It was really simple to use, and automatically saves your videos to Google Drive.
I made a quick outline for myself before I started, yet after the first couple of attempts, I realized I needed more information and kept adding to my outline until I came up with the image to the right. This helped me stay on track and ensure I knew what I wanted to include in what order. Even with this though, I still needed to stop and rerecord multiple times! I decided not to make a script as I wanted to sound authentic and less like I was reading off a paper. I may try this though for the next one, as I’m not sure I was as fluid as I could have been.
I really enjoyed making a screencast. I think having the visual will be helpful for students and parents as they get more used to this helpful tool. It also serves as a good example for my students of how they can teach their peers about a useful tool or topic in a succinct, clear and simple way. I hope that when students come back from the much needed break, there will be a few risk-takers who can model screencasting for their peers.
I am currently taking my Principal’s Qualifications and am required to write a reflection after each module. It has been on my mind since the start of the course that these reflections get posted to one person, yet there is so much more we all could be getting out of these reflections if there was more value placed on them by making them public- where they can stop being reflections for the sake of reflecting, but can become reflections for discussion and growth. In an effort to practice what I’m preaching, here is a copy of what I wrote in my most recent reflection:
If there were to be a module where my passion lies, it would be with Module 4, specifically around the use of technology.
Technology has always been an area where I have felt comfortable. A new tool can come out, and I feel completely safe playing around, clicking buttons, navigating pages and simply figuring it out. The more experience I’ve had with this, the less fear I have to accidentally do something wrong.
Because of my comfort level, I have always been drawn to new and innovative technology-based tools that I can use in the classroom with my students. When I did my teaching practicum in 2005, I was fortunate to be placed in a school that had a shared laptop cart. I created a webquest for my grade 1-2 split class to virtually explore the different cities Terry Fox ran his marathon, and then write an imaginary journal from his perspective of the things they saw on their journey. This was the spark for the path I would follow for the rest of my career up until this point.
In 2007 I moved to Vancouver to pursue a Masters in Educational Technology. I was then hired as the Technology Integration Specialist at a school there. I attended workshops on iPad integration, participated in large EdTech conferences all over Canada and the US, and eventually moved to Ottawa where again, part of my responsibilities are dedicated to helping teachers integrate innovative practices into their classrooms, including but not limited to, technology. More than anything, I want to help them reduce their fear of “clicking on something wrong.”
I get that I may not be the norm. There are many teachers, both young and not as young, who feel intimidated by technology. However, after listening to this week’s group talk about the changes our students are likely to experience in their future, I can’t help but stand up and yell from the rooftops that it is imperative that teachers and administrators become literate in the language of now. Even in the last few months, I have upped my own online presence and realize that we have so much to benefit from the world of educators. Why limit ourselves to those in our school? Those in our board? Those in our city or even country?
This reflection in and of itself has no value if the only person I can share it with is my professor. That’s why I have also posted it to my blog. Perhaps this is a larger dialogue that needs to happen. Perhaps other people have ideas to share that will help me develop my thoughts even more. Perhaps I am completely off on my thinking. But I’ll never know if I don’t put it out there for others to comment on and reflect with me.
As potential future administrators, wouldn’t it be great to speak to other people around the world going through the same process? Wouldn’t it be beneficial to hear from those who have completed the process and are just beginning the next phase of their career? Why then, are we limited to posting our reflections inside a closed platform?
As one of my mentors, Silvia Tolisano, has taught me, technology is just the tool. There are always new things coming out and new ways of doing things. What’s important is that you know how to handle those things when they do come so that you are moving with the times, not falling behind them. We have a huge responsibility and a huge opportunity. As future leaders, we must be the leaders.
As someone who has always been comfortable with technology, and spend much of my time navigating the digital world, I would consider myself a (mostly) literate educator. Many teachers may hear that term and say the same for themselves, but what it means to be literate today has changed. If we truly want to prepare our students for the future, we need to rethink what literacy skills are. And if we need to teach those skills, we need to know those skills and use them.