Merry Global Christmas

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This year, our school decided that we were going to have a carol sing as part of our Holiday Assembly. I thought that it would be fun to let other schools participate in this carol sing via Skype. Last weekend, I sent out a tweet asking if anyone would be interested in participating, and within a couple of minutes, I got four responses. All of us downloaded the latest version of Skype, and we tried out a group video call. Yippee! It worked!

Paula Naugle (from New Orleans), Jeremy Macdonald (from Southern Oregon), Rob McDonald (from Manitoba), and Jena Sherry (from Wisconsin) each practiced singing Jingle Bells with the plan that we would all sing it together on December 17th. Unfortunately, Rob McDonald’s students were called to a last minute assembly, so they couldn’t participate, but the rest of us did. Each of us took turns singing the chorus of Jingle Bells, and then at the end, we all sang it together. A class from Australia wanted to participate in this carol sing too, but with the 16 hour time difference, this was not possible. They sent us a holiday video though with special Christmas greetings to the staff and students at Ancaster Meadow School. A special thank you to Jenny Ashby and Gill Davey for doing this! What a great end to our Global Carol Sing.

I also want to extend a special thank you to Zoe Branigan-Pipe, who came to the school on December 17th to record this special carol sing. We now have a wonderful recorded memory of this amazing day that showed us all about the true power of connections! I hope that Christmas 2.0 can be a holiday tradition at Ancaster Meadow School!


Teaching Teachers

On Thursday, December 9th, RCAC was held in London, Ontario. Zoe Branigan-Pipe (@zbpipe) was one of the presenters at this Symposium. She was presenting on her Learning With Livescribe TLLP Project, which I have been fortunate enough to be involved in. Since I was not attending RCAC, Zoe asked me if I would Skype in to talk about using the Livescribe Pen with my Grade 1/2 students. After some discussion, we thought that it would be interesting to have a couple of students share about how they use the Livescribe Pen.

On Thursday, during our regular morning writing routine, interested students brainstormed what they would share with this group of educators. Here is what one student wrote:

Brainstorming About The Livescribe Pen On Palm Treos

After sharing ideas with the class, two students took part in the actual Skype call. It was amazing to listen to what they had to say. They showed a group of about 20 educators how to turn on the pen, how to listen to recorded instructions, and how to record on the pen too.

Not long after finishing the Skype call, I got this tweet from @kellypower:

Kelly's Tweet

This tweet was followed up later by a tweet from @zbpipe and a tweet from @carolgau (start at the bottom and read up):

Zoe's Tweet and Carol's Tweet

It was great to receive all of these positive comments, but more than anything, it was great for my students to have an opportunity to teach others what they do. It is one thing for me to say that this tool can be used with young students, but I think that there is far more value in actually seeing that it can be.

Thank you, Zoe, and the rest of the TLLP Team for letting us participate in this presentation of yours!


A #FollowFriday Thank You To My PLN!

Tomorrow is Friday, and thanks to @dougpete, I have started regularly recognizing my amazing PLN through #FollowFriday mentions. With the urge to try something new, I decided to use a combination of Bitstrips For Schools and GoogleDocs to make my #FollowFriday list.

Many thanks to all of the amazing members of my PLN, who help me learn something new everyday and challenge me to continue to be a better teacher. You all deserve to be followed any day of the week!


Is It Okay To Be Excited?

Last night, the Edublog Award finalists were announced. I saw the link around midnight, and I had to have a look. I was thrilled to find out that I was a finalist in three categories: Best Individual Tweeter, Best Class Blog, and Best Teacher Blog. I was ecstatic! I didn’t expect this — in fact, I didn’t even realize that I had been nominated in some of these categories — but when I found out the news, I couldn’t help but be happy.

Numerous members of my Twitter PLN that I respect and admire are nominated in the same categories as me, and with that in mind, I have the same thought that I hear many movie stars articulate when the Academy Award Nominations are announced: “It’s just a privilege to be nominated.” And you know what? It really is!

This is everything that I was thinking and feeling when I started reading the stream of tweets this morning about these Edublog Nominations. First @KarenJan admitted that she appreciates the nomination, but does not like the competition. Then @jenwagner blogged on this topic too, and with similar views. @Teachakidd started speaking about the benefits of competition. I checked back later, and @courosa was getting involved in the discussion as well.

I really do understand both viewpoints. On the one side, I believe strongly in getting my students to see the value in intrinsic rewards, and here I am, excited by the possibility of an extrinsic reward. That being said, it’s nice to be recognized for what we do, and making it to a list like this, means something.

So where do I really stand on this issue? I think I’m for the Edublog Awards. Getting a nomination or not getting a nomination is not going to change what I do or why I do it, but it was a pleasant surprise. I also got to look through the award categories, see many educators that I follow on Twitter, but also many that I don’t, and start communicating with some new educators as well. Making new connections is always exciting, and I’m glad that the Edublog Award Nominations helped me with this. I’m also excited for my students too, for this week, I can show them that our Class Blog got nominated, and this just helps give them one more reason to be excited about blogging and excited about what they’re doing in the classroom.

So I have no big dreams of winning and no big plans for shameless self-promotion, but I am excited just the same, and I think that’s okay. Now, dare I ask, what are your thoughts on the Edublog Awards?


The Power Of Almost 1200

This morning I was putting together an Animoto slideshow of our week in the classroom. While I was watching the completed slideshow, I realized just how much my teaching has changed in just over a year. From what the students do to how they learn to how I teach, I feel like I’m just a shadow of my former self, and that’s not a bad thing.

I was about to tweet out the link to this slideshow, and that’s when I realized that I am nine followers short of 1200 people. These 1200 people are a combination of educators, parents, and administrators, all of whom read my tweets, answer my questions, and share their incredible ideas too. Wow! My PLN (Personal Learning Network) is amazing.

This is when I started to think to myself: imagine if all educators had 1200 people to connect with and learn from? How much better would we all be? Please consider this my very big thank you to my PLN: thank you for all that you have taught me and continue to teach me. I am a better teacher because of you!