Saturday, June 30, 2012

What's the Best Things I've Done This Year

One of the other things that came out of my day with George Couros was that I was encouraged to write and share two blog posts.  This is the first of two. Since the day of learning took place over two weeks ago I've had a lot of time to think about this.  What's the Best Thing I've Done This Year?

Professionally the obvious best thing I've done this year  is join Twitter. It has impacted my teaching in more ways than I can ever list.  I truly am a very different (hopefully better) educator because of the connections I've made through Twitter.  But I think if I wrote about that you'd probably get board, since I've written about it over, and over again this year.  Heck I even wrote a post for the International Reading Association on Why Twitter which you can read here. So I'm going to have to say the second best thing I've done this year is blog.  I have blogged professionally.  I have maintained my class blog.  I have encourage and supported my grade one students with their blogging too.  All three have been the best thing I've done this year.

Professionally blogging has been a great way for me to get my story out.  I'm certainly no brilliant scholar but I do think a lot and I like getting my thinking down on paper.  Thinking it, writing it, then sharing it with the world has made me a better educator  and hopefully along the way I have helped make others become better educators too. My professional blog, like twitter has allowed me to connect with many incredible educators too.

My class blog has also been a very powerful tool and one of the best things I've done this year.  The 199 posts written through out the school year have had over 21,500 visits.  It was an easy way for my students to share their learning with their families both near and far.  It also allowed me to show case what we are doing in my grade one class which hopefully inspired others to try new things too.  It was a great way to stay connected with my students families,  particularly during this extremely difficult year of job action. With over 20,000 hits ( I figured we might get 1,000 ) it was one of the best things I did this year.

But of the three blogs I've maintained my students'  KidBlog has been the best blog ever. While many of my students still struggle with many of the mechanics of writing, KidBlog has given them a voice and they are  genuine writers.  They aren't writing because I am telling them they have to, they are writing because they want to.  Many of my students are writing from home on their own time.  They are reading each others writing too, and leaving comments.  The comments from one student to another are the most precious things ever.  Remember my students were only five and six when they started the school year and they are now only six and seven.  But it is very clear that they are NOT too young to  be blogging.  Blogging has given them a voice that can be heard by the world.  I can't stress how excited they are when they see that people they don't know have read and left comments on their blogs.  Blogging has given my selective mute a voice.  Blogging, and most particularly providing my grade one students with an easy to use platform to blog with, has been one of the best things I have done this year.

If you're curious to read more about my journey with blogging with my grade one students check out this blog post I wrote in December - Blogging With My Grade One Students.

What is the best thing you've done this year?

A Day of Learning with George Couros - June 12, 2012

With another school year done for the summer one of my goals is to get caught up with my writing. June was a crazy month of learning for me, combined with a crazy month of teaching. It was a good month but I'm glad July is just about to arrive.

I was truly honoured when I was invited to attend a day of learning with George Couros. I was part of a group called the "Movers and Shakers" in my school district and we were brought together to learn with George.  It was a good day, and to no surprise I left the day with my brain spinning.

To begin with George set a few goals for us. The three main goals were to think about and share our stories of learning, to help create cultures of innovation, and to define why.  He asked us WHY our school district has had such a push on getting iPads into classrooms and it was interesting to see how we all reacted. To be perfectly honest a lot of us were stumped. While we all know what we are doing, coming up with our why was a lot harder to define.  That is the first problem that needs to be fixed.

George shared with us some of the things his district is focussing on, and WHY it is their focus. The WHY was a really key theme to the entire day.  Everyone in the room is doing great things with their students but how many of us have stopped to think about WHY we are doing what we are doing.  George had me thinking about the WHY all day long. He shared this great video with us by Simon Senek and if you haven't seen it I highly recommend that you do.

George also had us think about our sentence a project inspired by Daniel Pink. My initial sentence was "I am inspiring, connecting, engaging, sharing, and learning with others". While I liked that sentence on the day the more I read it the less I like it.  I'm now thinking that maybe my sentence should be as simple as "She was a teacher that never stopped learning." What do you think?

Another key point that George focussed on is that we don't want pockets of innovation we want cultures of innovation.  This also resinated in my head.  I believe that I am doing good things with my students and I am using the avenue of twitter and this blog to share what I am learning.  I didn't let  limited resources or lack of support at my school stop me from doing what I believe is best practice.  In addition I took the time to share at two professional development days with my staff, and three workshops at our district workshop in May.  I have connected with many face to face in my district to help get them started on their journey of change as well.  I have written articles for the IRA to help others on their journey. Never once did I let lack of support  stop me from doing  what I felt was important to do.  But am I just a pocket of innovation, or am I creating a culture of innovation?

When I stop to think about the culture in my school I wonder to myself, could I be doing more?  To be perfectly honest I worry some times that I am too out there for my administration and my staff. I'm not sure if that's true or not but it is something that I think about often.  Change is hard for everyone and helping people see the need to change is even tougher.  And who am I really, just one of three grade one teachers in my school. Plus it hasn't been easy to inspire change in my colleagues when our technology is limited and we struggle day to day just to meet basic needs of our students.  And don't even get me started on the job action we've been under, and how poorly we have been treated by our provincial government. That is not saying that you need technology to change but it certainly makes change a whole lot easier.  But I truly do want to create a culture of innovation so I will continue to share, explore, and support those on my staff.  I will continue to do it at the district, provincial, and international levels too.  I just need to figure out how to do it better so more people truly believe that moving forward is the right thing to do. That is certainly something George has me thinking about.

We also talked about Twitter and being connected to others.  As I have said over, and over, and over again Twitter has completely changed me as an educator and I can't even begin to imagine doing what I'm doing without the support of the Personal Learning Network I have fostered via Twitter.  I am constantly inspired and my learning/thinking is pushed daily.  It has helped me see that there are others like me in this world, and while I may be the crazy one at my school I'm not alone.  It's invigorating and exciting for me.  Plus this summer I am making a real effort to meet face to face with many of these amazing people and I can't wait.

At the end of the day George had us write a short summary of our day of learning.  This is what I had to say.

With head spinning and heart pounding you asked me what I learned today. The biggest thing by far is to constantly ask myself why. Why do I do what I do? I need to be able to answer that question no matter who asks. How do my actions inspire those around me? How do those I connect with inspire me?  For every action I need a reason and I must be mindful of that.  Ultimately am I a better person today than I was yesterday? That has to be my goal.

What is your why? How are you creating a culture of innovation? I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Day with Adrienne Gear - A Look Back

On Wednesday,  June 6th I was lucky enough to spend the day learning with Adrienne Gear.  If you're not familiar with Adrienne she is the author of Reading Power, Writing Power, and Reading Power - Non Fiction.  Her focus is to get students to THINK while they read and write.  Her books are very clearly written and easy to follow. The information found in them can be used at every grade level.  If you haven't already read them I highly recommend that you do.

We started our day with the very clear reminder that we are responsible for providing specific direct instruction around teaching reading, no matter what grade we teach.  Yes, the Kindergarten/Grade One teachers play a big role in teaching children to read for the first time, but every K- 7 educator must continue to reinforce those skills.  We looked at when we do reading in our day and how most times can include a direct instruction lesson.  

In her book Reading Power Adrienne talks about the Power to Connect, the Power to Question, the Power to Visualize,  the Power to Infer, and the Power To Transform.  In my head the Power to Connect has always referred to connection to self, connections to text, or connections to the world. My students are pretty good at making these types of connections as they read.  But her thinking has changed a bit and so now the connections have more to do with connections to memory, connections to fact, or connections to imagination.  The connections are more about using different pockets of your brain to help you learn to read - the memory pocket, the fact pocket, and the imagination pocket.  By focussing on the different parts of the brain our students will better understand where the learning is coming from.   

Adrienne shared a story about a student that was always making connections, but not  related to the story. For example this student would connect to the colour of the book character's shirt when it had absolutely nothing to do with the information being shared in the story.  By redirecting this student to make connections from the memory or fact pocket of the brain instead of the imagination pocket  this student was able to be more engaged in what was really happening in his story.  I loved this analogy as I certainly have taught my share of students over the years that like to hang out in their imagination pocket in the brain.

All this talk about brain pockets helped spark a discussion on metacognition which is something I'm trying to get my students better at doing. It's one of my big goals for next year - to get my grade one students to become more aware of their thinking, think about their thinking, and articulate their thinking. Through Adreinne's reading power we learn that connecting, questioning, visualizing, inferring, and transforming are the thinking tools associated with reading.  You need to use your brain to do all of those things. It's about having your brain interact with the text through one (all) of those avenues.  If you are just reading  text, and not connecting or questioning, or visualizing, or inferring, or transforming you are having a one sided conversation with a book - the book is talking to you and you aren't part of the conversation.  However if you connect, or question, or visualize, or infer, or transform while you are reading you are having a two way conversation with the book. You are interacting with with the book.  

Adrian showed us a baby bib visual with BIBB written on it - Bring It Back (to the) Book - as a way to help our students make connections that are related/connected to the stories being read.  It's a visual to help those students that make too many connections in the imagination part of their brain.  A connection in this context is suppose to help you understand a book better.

We talked about deep thinking questions - those  whose answer is not found in the book.  She referred to those type of questions as scuba questions because you have to go a little deeper to get an answer. It's an invitation to think. She also talked about snorkelling questions with answers right on the surface. She also talked about cloud questions, those that take us too far away from the text.  Her descriptions were clear and I know I can easily transfer this to my grade one class.  I also know this will totally help me with my goal of increased metacognition next year.

There was also some learning around non fiction text features and how they help the reader to access, locate and find, organize, clarify, and find important facts.  These text features help you find information. We also learned the difference between a prediction (what you think is going to happen next) and an inference (what you think is happening RIGHT NOW).

Adrienne also told us about her weekly OWI. This is where she puts up a picture first thing Monday morning and her students have to write down three things that they see in the picture (observe). Then they have to  write down two things they wonder about.  Finally they have to write down one possible answer to one of their questions (infer). They have to observe, wonder, and infer or OWI.

While I've written a fair bit here this really is just a very small snapshot of what I learned that day.  If you're still curious, which you really should be, you must get your hands on a copy of Adrienne's books. I can assure you you will NOT be disappointed. You should also check out her website and her reading power resources.

So I'm curious are you an Adrienne Gear follower? What do you do to encourage/teach  your readers to be more engaged with their reading?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Innovative Learning Designs Grant Phase 2 - The Kick Off Session

Back near the end of May I blogged about the exciting things that were happening in my school. The most exciting was that my school was successful with our Innovative Learning Designs Grant proposal application.  Now that the technology order has been placed my school district felt it was important that all successful schools meet and learn a little more about the journey we are about to embark on.

On June 5th  my friend, work colleague, and grant team member Erica Segec and I  joined many of the other successful grant winning schools at a day of learning.   We started the day by talking about how important it was for our journey to be a collaborative inquiry.  Our team of five has two primary and three intermediate teachers on it.  Julie and I (the primary teachers) have every intention of working together and sharing our learning.  Erica, Heidi, and Megan will be doing the same.  But our collaborative inquiry will go beyond that as the five of us, along with our administration plan to meet regularly and share our learning both with one another, and with our entire staff.

Taking Stock

The first part of the day looked at taking stock.  Erica and I review our grant proposal.  For the primary team we are looking at utilizing technology to improve the literacy skills of our students, enhance global inter-connectedness, and explore passion based learning.  Our intermediate team is looking at utilizing technology to facilitate inquiry based learning, global inter-connectedness, impossible2possible, and personal/differentiated learning.  We talked about our collaborative inquiry, about meeting regularly as a team, and about sharing out our thinking and practice.

The morning continued with us looking at the connections to what we are already doing.  Erica and I talked about differentiated learning and how with technology we will be able to expand that even more.  This new technology will allow our students to better explore their passions, and show what they know in so many different formats.

We then moved on to revisiting our action plan.  First off we want to get the technology into the hands of our students.  We want to be able to utilize technology to allow our students to show their learning in ways that suit them best and  to push them outside their comfort zone by helping them to learn new ways of doing things. We want to open their minds to global connectedness and utilize technology to better access a wider range of just right materials.

For the next part of the morning we looked at evidence of student learning.  Through our influx of technology we are looking for improvements in reading.  More specifically we are looking at increased comprehension though better access to more personally specific texts.  We are looking for transformational learning of key topics through pre and post assessment on their views on key topics such as what is leadership, or what is water, or what is a student, or what is a global citizenship.

Talking Stock

The second part of the day focussed on us having conversations around our specific inquiry. Erica and I  looked at what we already know, what we are wondering, and what we are hoping to learn (or are learning).  We already know that differentiation works, descriptive feedback is far more powerful/effective than grades, and that passion based learning engages students.  We are wondering how technology will enable us to better met the different/unique needs of our learners.  We are also wondering about how connecting globally will affect our students perceptions of the world.  In addition Erica and I were wondering about how we are going to share this great learning with our parent community.

Through the discussions with other schools Erica and I are learning to/that...

  • taking risks is important
  • we cannot see/direct where the learning will go
  • we are co-learners with our students
  • BookCreator is a poplular iPad app
  • iPads need to be used for a specific purpose
  • a private YouTube channel will be important to share work

In the afternoon we were lead through a twitter tutorial. As someone very comfortable using, connecting, and learning via twitter I was able to help others try to understand how powerful it really is.  It was great for me to see my good friend Erica explore twitter.  She can see the incredible information it holds and hopefully she will start to utilize it too. It was pretty cool to see so many people in my school district start to explore twitter.  In fact I LOVE how my school district puts so much value in the learning and sharing that is happening there.  I don't need to go into how incredible I think twitter is, and how it has completely changed me as an educator.

After the twitter exploration we were shown a few open ended iPad apps.  It was stressed that this is not a MUST HAVE apps list, but simply a place to possibly start.  I agree with the team that there really is no perfect iPad App list as each app meets a different need or purpose and we all have different needs or purposes to meet.  Some of the Apps shared included Explain Everything, Keynote, Book Creator, iBooks, PuppetPals (director's pass),  Comic Life, iMovie, NFB PixStop, Videolicious, Dropbox, QRafter, and Snapseed.

In Summary

We ended the day  looking at what our next steps are.  Since Erica and I were the only two from our team able to attend this session we set up our next steps.  In no particular order they are as follows:

  1. Over the summer holidays get iPads into the hands of the grant proposal teachers who don't already own personal iPads.
  2. Meet and share our learning with the rest of the team.
  3. Explore possibilities connected to our learning goals.
  4. Review other schools' grant proposals to see if  others have similar inquiry questions.
  5. Apps - what's available, what are they for, how do I use them?
  6. How do we get the parents on board with our goals?
  7. How do we successfully share what we are doing with our parent community?
  8. *Gain a greater comfort level with the  technology available to us.

*As a member of this team I am very comfortable with technology but most of my team members are not.  For me it is HUGE that I do everything I can to make them more comfortable with using technology. They are very well aware that I am willing and able to help them when ever and where ever I can.

Having this technology grant really makes the 2012-13 school year an exciting time at my school.

Now I'm curious to know have you ever been part of a technology grant proposal? What things should we keep in mind as we learn, and discover along side of our students? I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What Did I Learn Today

Today I spent the day  learning and sharing with George Couros.  A real blog post on this experience and  two more that I was challenged to write during our discussions today are coming (along with two more from last weeks adventures with Adrienne Gear and the new Innovative Learning Grant schools). But in the mean time here is the tiny blog post I wrote about today entitled "What I Learned Today".

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Revisiting Goals

After attending RSCON#3 over the mid summer long weekend in July 2011 I set some goals for myself.  I revisited my goals in October and wrote about the changes I had made to that point.  Today marks exactly 10 months since I first set my goals and I figure it's time to revisit them again.  And to perfectly honest it's a great distraction from writing year end report cards.

So here goes...

I will set up a class blog with my grade one class this year. I hope to have a blog that the parents of my students can go to see what we are doing in class, and that the rest of the world can check out too.  My class blog is still up and running.  I have added many new exciting links and tools to it and it continues to attract visitors from around the world.  We've had over 17,000 visits which far surpasses any other blog I've maintained.  In addition my students continue to blog both at school and from home on their individual blogs.  They have become great writers.  What I love most is the comments that they are now leaving one another.  Back in October while we had started writing on our individual blogs, we hadn't published any posts publicly.  As of this evening we have over 550 blog posts posted, with over 1,400 comments.

I will take the time to learn as many Web 2.0 tools as I can that can either benefit my teaching, my students learning, this blog, or my class blog. The beauty I've discovered with Web 2.0 tools is that they keep being created.  I now use a tool that sends links that I tweet on Twitter directly to my Diigo account.  We have a pet on our class blog which anyone can feed and water, and our visitors can leave us voice messages.  Every time I see a new tool that peeks my interest I have to check it out.  So yes, I think this goal has been achieved, and will continue to be improved upon.

I will continue to differentiate my teaching because I believe so strongly about it, but I will look even more closely at how I go about differentiating. Perhaps this shouldn't have ever been a goal because I have always believed in differentiation.  In my classroom my students are rarely doing the same thing at the same time.  In fact I bet if my admin took a look at the amount of photo copying I've done this year they will be pleasantly surprised that it has been very little.  What I have discovered is more ways to differentiate, particularly by incorporating more technology.

I will provide more opportunities for my grade one students to show me what they know in the manner that they are most comfortable with.  I have tried to provide my students with a variety of opportunities to show me their knowledge.  Choice is a big component to my literacy program and this choice allows me to see where my students are at.

I will book the “free” lab time more often as well as bring the laptops into my classroom much earlier than term three.  My students are very comfortable using the school laptops and the lab PCs.  I also arranged for the district iPod loaner set to be in my school twice, and the district iPad loaner set to be in my school once.  We embraced all the technology we had available to us.

I will look for grants to get more technology into my classroom, and into my school. In late November I was invited to attend an iPad training session.  At that time I received an iPad to use with my class and that iPad has been used by my students every day.  I also managed to get a projection device donated to my classroom which is also used constantly.  But most exciting thing is that myself, and four other fantastic educators from my school wrote and submitted a proposal for our school districts Innovative Learning Grant.  The successful schools were awarded  $20,000 from the district and $5,000 from the school to go towards purchasing technology.  And guess what?  We were successful. What this means for my school is that we will finally get some much needed technology. There are exciting times coming.

I will read as many blogs as I can, and comment as often as possible.  I must admit that the more blogs I read the more blogs I add to my google reader.  I have found so many inspiring educators. I continue to make a conscious effort to leave comments on blogs that get my brain spinning. I continue to learn so much from my fellow educators.  While I am not always caught up on the posts in my google reader, I love knowing that there is great reading just waiting for me.

I will be willing to help anyone that can use my help. Through Twitter I have continued to chat and share my knowledge with other like minded individuals.  I have also met with several teachers in my district - answering their questions, sharing what I've learned, and learning from them.  I know that the connections I've made with so many teachers in my district have sparked more connections as they are sharing what they have learned with others.  I also presented two workshops at our annual convention and shared the links to my presentations (blogging in primary) (tech in primary) with anyone that had an interest in them.  I've connected nationally and internationally too,sharing what I'm doing with people that are interested in finding out.   I've written three times for the International Reading Association, and I will be writing  more articles for them in the future.  I've gone from a  grade one teacher, to a grade one teacher with connections around the world. I am teaching anyone that is interested in learning from me.  My motto is share the love.

I will have my class fully participate in the Post Card Project. I must admit this slowed a bit because it was really hard to find postcards from my students' community of Surrey.  We did send about eight postcards and we received four so it wasn't a complete write off.  But I did connect with a lot more classes on line, through our class blog,  our class Twitter account, and our participation in the Flat Classroom project.

I will try my best to instill in my students that they can feel, imagine, do and share.  This is still something that I have to work on with my students. 

I will be a change agent. Back in October I didn't comment on this goal but today I think I can.  I have been on a real mission  to spread my love for technology with anyone that will listen, but particularly those people that teach K-3.  I discovered that this age range is not well represented at our district level and I wanted that changed. By making a conscious effort to connect with as many like minded primary educators in my district as I can I know that things are changing.  People who once thought I was nuts for what I was trying to do with my students, are trying to do it too.  And it's exciting to see what the others are doing.  Something as simple as setting up my class blog has helped inspire others to give it a try too.  In my school there are now eight class blogs up and running.  This time last year there were none.  So yes, I do believe that I have been an agent for change, but I also believe that I have not fully accomplished this goal.

It certainly has been an exciting ten months for me.  I've accomplished many other goals that I did not put down on paper on that faithful day in August. While I am super proud of what I've accomplished this year there is still so much more I want to do and achieve.  If you can believe it I am already starting to think about some of the incredible things I will be doing with my class next year.  The technology grant awarded to my school, a long with another special project I am involved with will bring some seriously exciting  changes to my teaching.  But I guess first I need to start writing those darn year end report cards.

What goals have you set for yourself? How are you doing with achieving them? I'd love to hear from you.

Flat Classroom Project

For the past few months my class and I have been involved with a Flat Classroom pilot project titled Flat Classroom K-2 Building Bridges.  This project involved over 40 K-2 classrooms from around the world.  We were broken up into several different sub groups, each with a slightly different focus.  For me and my class we were part of Group 2 and our focus was "Making a Meal".  We were grouped with a kindergarten class in the USA, and a prep (kindergarten) class in Hong Kong.

When I signed up I had very little idea about what this would involve.  I saw a tweet on twitter inviting interested k-2 teachers to apply to join in.  As any one who knows me at all, I have a bit of an addiction to Twitter these days, and I am  loving the connections - both local, national, and global - that I have made because of it.  I figured getting my students more globally connected would be a pretty cool thing to do too.  Together with my class we signed up.

At the time when I signed up, and found out that I was accepted in the pilot project I  wasn't really thinking about the fact that my student teacher would be returning after Spring Break and would start taking over my teaching role.  I figured I'd find a way to make it work, without adding the extra pressure of this program to her already stressful new teaching role.

I have to admit our group (Group 2) got off to a bit of a rocky start. My province is facing some political unrest and we were on strike for the first week.  The next two weeks I was on Spring Break, and then when I returned the other two schools had their breaks too, but on different weeks.  So our reality was that it was six weeks into the project that we were all back in our classes at the same time.  At this time my student teacher was also teaching close to 60-70% of the time.

E-mails flew back and forth between Theresa Allen ( the tech coordinator at the school in the USA), Stephanie Kaput (the teacher at the school in the USA), and Deb Pih (the teacher at the school in Hong Kong).  What did "Making a Meal" look like to us?  As teachers of young students we had to figure out a way to allow our students to "Make a Meal".  We all deal with different constraints but wanted to come up with something we could all try to do, in our own way.

It was decided that we would all attempt to cook with our students, share our cooking with one another, and if possible attempt to cook our friends' food too.  With that we were off.

My school is a very multicultural school which is one of the true joys of where I work.  I wanted to get the parents of my students involved in this project too, so I invited them to come into the school to cook with my students.  Since at this point in the project my student teacher was doing most of the teaching I let our families know that I would be available to help with the cooking, and that we would only cook with a group of six students.  I also stressed how special our school is because we represent so many different countries.  After a notice home, and some selling of the concept during our twice a week community read, I had a couple of parents on board to come and cook with us.  As you can imagine I was pretty excited.

The first parent who came to cook with us was the mother of one of my Korean students.  She came in with all the supplies needed to make GimBap - a Korean roll that looks a lot like Japanese sushi. She was worried about her English but really she had nothing to worry about.  The six children that cooked with her were excellent students and were so excited to make this special Korean dish.  The rest of the children in the class were happy to try their cooking.

This first video created a lot of excitement, particularly when Vicki Davies (a co founder of Flat Classroom) tweeted, blogged, and added it to her Pinterest board.  Our class blog traffic went up a ton that week as visitors from around the world came to check out what we were doing.  It was certainly one of the most exciting weeks we have had on our class blog.

The cooking continued and so did the videos.  I made it my job to create a video every time we cooked.  I tweeted out the videos and added them to our class blog too.

Making North American Dirt and Worm with Paul's Mom

Making Filipino Adobo Chicken with Brooklyn's Mom

Making Sri Lanka Coconut Toffe with Merura's Mom

Making Iraq Baclava with Cream with Lawrence's Mom

Making Canadian Crepes with Ms. Will's Mom

But we didn't only cook with our parents, we also cooked the dishes that our two group schools cooked too.  As a whole class we made applesauce, salsa, and jam.

Making Mrs. Kaput's Class Applesauce

Making Mrs. Kaput's Class Salsa

Making Ms. Pih's Class Jam

I have to admit the cooking was a lot of fun, and for many of my students it was the first time that they had been involved with cooking.  I love how my students were willing to try one another's foods, and how awesome my parent community was in supporting our project.  But the project went way beyond the cooking.  We were connecting with other children from around the world, and while we all live far away from one another we all connected through our cooking.

Near the end of the project we had the opportunity to skype with the class in the USA. This was the first time we had ever skyped as a class before and it was a great experience.  We loved asking questions of our friends in the USA, and I think they liked talking with us too.  This project has helped my students see that there are other children, just like them, all over the world.  I'm hoping I've broadened their view of the world.

Professionally it was a fabulous project for me too.  Although I was part of Group 2 I met several other inspiring classroom teachers also part of this pilot project.  They taught me several new things.  They also provided my class with other global classrooms to connect with.  Take for example Kathy Cassidy, a grade one teacher in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.  While my class had already connected with her class, this project allowed us to connect even more.  She shared a video about where they learned, and we were excited to make and share our own video with her too.

This is Where We Learn Class Blog Video

When I posted a question on our Google Group people from around the world were keen to help provide me with answers.  I feel like I've made many new teaching friends from around the world.  And while Twitter has also been a fantastic place for me to connect, this project helped introduce me to some incredible global educators that I may not have found on my own on Twitter.

One of the main components of this project is that each group creates a collaborative project.  We made two - a collaborative video, and a collaborative voice thread.

Our Collaborative Video

Our Collaborative Voice Thread

We also contributed to a K-2 Buiilding Bridges group blog.

Before I forget every group contributed to a YouPublisher project that highlights a View From Our Window.  While I haven't seen the final project yet, I know it will be a fabulous creation from almost all of the 40+ classrooms involved in the project.

As the program has come to an end, I know that the connections are here to stay.  I feel pretty confident in saying that our classes will be connecting again in the the new school year, and I will be more than likely be connecting with other classes in this program too.  I also know that I have added some pretty incredible educators to my constantly expanding professional learning network.

Thank you Julie Lindsay and Vicki A. Davis for creating such a wonderful opportunity for me and my students. I can assure you, we will be back.