Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dream Big

Real leadership is dreaming bigger for others than they dream for themselves-  G.J. Hart

I often tell my Grade 3 teachers that they are my "shining lights".  They have embraced technology  in a way that I never thought would be possible at the beginning of the year.  They are pushing limits and finding new ways to move forwards.  They have given up thinking that every class has to do the same thing and are working out how technology can support the students in each class in different ways as  they understand that there are many paths to the same destination.  They are risk-takers.  I was talking about this earlier this week and I said that some of them had jumped into these changes because they believed in them, but others had changed their practice first, even though they might not have truly believed in it at the start of the year - but with changed practice and seeing how it worked, has come changed beliefs.  I am proud of every single one of these teachers for how far they have moved this year.  I am especially proud of our 2 classes who have started quad blogging this week with schools around the world.  (If you would like to visit these quad blogs here they are:  3N Kids have published poems, photos and music using Animoto and 3K Kids have published poems and artwork using VoiceThread.  They would love comments.)

There are some other shining lights in different grade levels too.  I don't teach 4th grade this year, but I was recently asked to help out with a photography course being run by one of these teachers as part of the How We Express Ourselves unit of inquiry.  I didn't need to do much helping - she already knew what she wanted the students to do and how she wanted them to do it, my support was basically making sure the wireless network was working properly (she's in a portacabin so the wireless is not always great), and helping students save their work in the correct place.  The photographs the students took with her were outstanding.

Another Grade 4 teacher started a writing blog with his class this year.  Students have been publishing their work as eBooks embedded into the blog.  Yet another teacher in Grade 1 started using Pixie to have her students tell stories.  These were also published on her class blog.  If you would like to see what these students have been writing please click on the following links:  4S Writers' Workshop and 1B's Writing to Entertain.  Both these teachers have got Clustr maps in their sidebar and the students are always excited to see who is reading their work.

Since today is Tuesday, I spend the day at one of our other campuses.  Last week I introduced digital storytelling to the students in Grade 4 as they are working on their How We Express Ourselves unit of inquiry.  Earlier this year I did digital storytelling with our Grade 3s on the main campus and introduced a different tool to each of our 4 classes there.  This time I decided to introduce all 4 tools to all the students and let them choose themselves which way they wanted to tell their stories.  They had the choice of making a strip cartoon, an animation, a photo story or an eBook.  The most popular choices were animations and eBooks.  Now this class is always a challenge to me because the students have to use laptops and there are not enough - this whole year I have never actually taught a lesson where all students have had a computer to themselves - often they are sharing 2 or 3 students per laptop.  Last week, therefore, it was not possible for all students to start making their stories.  Today however I was surprised and delighted to find that some students had already finished their stories - they did them from home.  Others had not only finished off their stories, but had created their own private accounts to use at home too.  Today the students asked me could they publish more stories - could they try out several of the tools and not just one of them - could they write more at home too? Their enthusiasm is so contagious!  Hopefully mine is too!

Earlier this week I was also talking with a colleague about how to capture this enthusiasm and use it to move everyone forward - students and teachers.  I know some schools have students who are producing tutorials for teachers or who are acting as tech-suport buddies in their classes.  I'd love to connect with teachers who are doing this to find out how it is actually working.  Please leave me a comment or get in touch by email if you can give me some feedback or tips.  Thanks.

Photo Credit:  Ninja cat by Robert Couse-Baker


  1. Morning from Hong Kong Maggie!
    I have some ideas but my wireless dingle is running out.
    Thank you for the post.
    I'll add more later!

  2. Hi Neil, I want to dream big for our students as well as our teachers so I'd love some ideas as to how I can move forward with them. Thanks for your input.

  3. Hi Maggie, I am just working on a Grade 4 Planner for How We Express Ourselves and I would love to incorporate digital storytelling like you did with your 4's. What was your central idea and lines of inquiry for that unit?

  4. Hi Marcie, here is our central idea: Ideas, values and culture can be expressed through storytelling. I will need to check on the lines of inquiry and get back to you later on this.

  5. Hi Marcie,
    Here are the lines of inquiry from last year. Not sure if they will stay the same this year:
    Different forms of storytelling (form)
    The connection between forms of storytelling and what they express (connection)
    Storytelling as a way of learning and understanding (perspective)