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Why?

Our school mission is to aim to provide the best possible learning environment for our children.  Why is it to simply aim, why do it? After reading this mission I have decided I need to re-introduce this to the staff.  For myself, I know how important the learning environment is for children.  I spend hours setting up the class, so the kids can come in and decided what works and what doesn’t.  It is a sense of community that creates the vibrant learning environment.

How do I bring this to the whole school? What can I do to help?  These are questions I have been asking myself for the past four years I have been at my school.  I simply feel deflated.  I now put all my energy towards my class and students.  Why? I want to put my energy towards something that evolves and changes for the good. Helps the students develop their skills.  I do not like feeling this way, but what more can I do? Any suggestions?

Why Schools?

School is a place to create minds that want more, want change, want to develop, want to try new things, want to create relationships, and a need to understand failure and how to overcome it.  To do all this we need a safe environment for the students to be able to explore their minds.

I have been fighting a very nasty cold for about four weeks, and my voice has come and gone many times.  My principal asked me if I was talking too much to the class, I laughed. I do not talk to the class, I talk with them.  My principal said, yes that is right you act more as a facilitator to the class.  And that is exactly what I do.  I know I was not and am not a student who can sit for longer than 15 minutes and listen to someone talk at me. I tune out after about five minutes.  So why on earth would I teach like that? 

Some teachers have asked me how I run my reader’s workshop and I have now decided to have teachers in my room to see how the students run it.  I want to show what students at any age are capable of doing on their own.  Year after year I watch the students develop into thoughtful learners.  I love this time of year when the class is buzzing with ideas.  When you first walk in, I am sure you may think they are all off task, but go and sit with a group and listen. It brings a smile to my face every time I hear…they are discussing and collaborating with each other!

Why do I do what I do?

It is that moment when a student takes responsibility for their learning.  When that light inside of them comes out and they are excited about what they can do and what they want to do. When they say I was thinking….  I wonder if…..  Maybe if I…. What if….Can I….What about…..Let’s try this….. and so on.  And this is what goes into our district’s mission; To ensure quality learning opportunities for all students of all ages.

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Digital Natives vs Digital Immigrants

I am not sure if we do have digital natives yet.  Taking my grade ones and twos into the computer lab is a great way to see what they know and understand about computer and internet use. My first lesson was to challenge the students to find our class website, I had booked 40 minutes for them to do it. Well, not two minutes later all students were there! However, I have found that many of them do not have the patience to wait to learn why we push the save button, what is the box in the upper right hand corner, and if something goes wrong they want immediate attention. Only a few students have demonstrated that they have patience to see if they can work it out themselves.

During our debate it dawned on me that digital natives are not all children today. And if we as educators want to teach digital skills we do need to understand the tools, but we must also be able to allow the students to teach us a little know how too.  Each September we all assess our new classes to see what type of learners are sitting at the desks. Today we not only look for the visual learners, the students with LD, the ADHD children, the day dreamer and so on, but we now must look for the digital native! They are out there, however it is not all students of this day and age.

For myself I have never seen myself as being digitally savvy, however my staff does. I took on the responsibility to learn more in order to aid my staff and as I did this I found two things; there are things I too, do not have the patience to learn and there a some very cool tools out there to learn!  I have decided I will try to use Evernote to help me organize all my many pieces of post it notes and I will get familiar with it so I can share what I have learned. I have been using Delicious for about a year, and I love it! It took me a year to try it and I regretted it once I saw what it could do. 

I really do not think there is a defined line between the Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, however I do believe that as educators we should be able to provide guidance to our students in regards to the new Digital age.

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Author who has influenced me…

is Debbie Miller.  I was given her books, Reading with Meaning and Intentions for Learning, over the summer. I have read many of the chapters in her books, and have used the Reading with Meaning to help me creat my Reader’s Workshop in the class.

I was very lucky to be able to go and hear her speak this past Pro D and was inspired even more. Her approach to education is very similar to mine. I like seeing self-regulated learners in the class. In our class, the past two months have been dedicated to creating a warm and inviting classroom environment. The students have contributed to the environment in many ways over the two months.  We have created classroom routines and rules together as a community. We often solve problems that arise has a whole class and discuss ways we can solve them.

I strongly believe when the students feel like the room is their room they take more care with their actions. The have a sense of ownership and pride that soon works it way into their learning. Students now can not wait to read to me or a family member. Debbie Miller creates such a literacy based classroom it is hard not to love reading. Bringing in your own love to read is very contagious. My little grade ones are already itching to take home a novel, like the grade twos. However, we have been learning about picking just the right book. Which is a great way for the students to become great reflectors on their own development as a learner.

Debbie’s authentic approach to teaching and learning so so refreshing. I have always believed in giving students the tools to become individuals who understand and acknowledge how they learn. Many of our class discussions this week seem to keep going back to how we learn.  I had a little girl the other day say that she learns best talking it out with her group. Many students responded and agreed. This led into a wonderful discussion about collaboration, which is a word the students use all the time now! Everyday the students inspire me with how much they do. I have a feeling I will read Debbie Miller’s book every August to get me excited and prepared for each new year.

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