Updates from October, 2014 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • wforrest 9:00 pm on October 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Are We Neglecting Relationships While Promoting Technology? 

    Wow, what an amazing event today at the brand new #HWDSB Education Centre to kick off the Transforming Learning Everywhere #HWDSBTLE movement. Guest speaker Dean Shareski @shareski was great to listen to and he posed some very real reflective questions for educators to think about. I also really enjoyed the face to face with many Twitter friends and board employees I knew about but haven’t formally met yet.

    But I have to say, my best learning and reflection came from a parent volunteer driver. After the small talk and introductions, I said to her, “Isn’t this amazing?” and she replied, “I’m not sure?, My 10 year old son hasn’t talked to one person and he hasn’t taken his eyes of his iPad.” And then there was a pause, I was thinking about her question, and she wasn’t sure if she should have said that. The first thought that ran through my mind was I begin every meeting I conduct with a line such as “Everyone in this room will be respected and heard” and I instantly realized her comment had to be heard and taken as a valid point of observation.

    She continued to say she feels her son is become too dependant on the device and he is beginning to isolate himself from interaction with his peers. He’s definitely learning new skills, but not developing skills we had from our school days. We talked a lot more about other items too, but it really started to make me think.

    At the end, Shareski said something along the lines about educators need to harness the power of technology while at the same time be aware of the pitfalls (those are my words of his idea). He continued to say we need to think of ways students can build healthy relationships with people while using technology. I instantly looked for this parent to say “This is what you were saying!” but I didn’t see her.

    So what do you think? As educators we know we should be embracing technology (and I will continue for sure), we know balance is healthy and we know students love using it, but are we neglecting the relationship building piece that comes with promoting a 1 to 1 environment?

    Would love to hear your thoughts.

    • dougpete 10:00 pm on October 29, 2014 Permalink

      Nice piece, Bill. And, you know what? If a teacher or a parent places so much emphasis on the technology to the exclusion of all else, it’s bound to happen. I don’t know what your implementation plans encompass but if the teaching and learning doesn’t focus on a multitude of opportunities for students, you’re doing a huge disservice. The types of classroom activities really guide the response. It’s like the old saying “If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like nails.”

      Classroom activities and any work assigned to be done at home should be done carefully to engage all kinds of activities for students. I hope that, just because a system has adopted a 1:1 program, the explicit message isn’t that all activities have to evolve around that device.

      As an educational professional, you have a multitude of tools that involve teamwork or working with different modalities. I hope that those have not dropped off the plate just because of an initiative.

      It sounds like a great topic of discussion for an open house or parent meetings.

    • adunsige 9:12 pm on October 29, 2014 Permalink

      This is a very interesting post, Bill! I think that even a few devices in the classroom could lead to a similar problem. Maybe the key is the need to teach students how to socialize both on and off the device. Maybe it’s explicitly teaching students about the importance of looking at the speaker, engaging in face-to-face collaboration as well as online collaboration, and building these “social pieces” into our classroom. If, as teachers, we still want a quiet classroom, students are going to be staring at a notebook or staring at an iPad screen. If though, we value the social aspects of education along with the academic ones, then hopefully relationships and technology can co-exist. I’d be curious to hear what others have to say.


  • wforrest 8:47 pm on October 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Guided Reading Should be Happening Every Day 

    There are many questions around guided reading, such as: How do I run it? What are other students doing when I’m doing it? What exactly do I read or teach? and many more questions.

    This blog post isn’t about how to run guided reading, having discussions with your colleagues will probably help you the most. This post is about the importance of doing guided reading everyday with a group of students in your class.

    I must admit, I didn’t run guided reading every day as a classroom teacher, I often found excuses but knew I should be doing it. However in my new role as instructional coach I have realized the importance of this small group instruction. I am truly enjoying having discussions with people about student needs, learning outcomes and anything to do with guided reading.

    The bottom line is this, it’s an opportunity to address a weakness in the form of a student need, in a small group instruction that will allow you to make comments, implement tools and give instant feedback in a safe small setting. Groups need to be flexible and dynamic and constructed from data, observation and assessment. This small group setting gives students a chance to develop reading strategies and teachers can model these strategies and engage students in conversations about the text.

    The more I think about guided reading and the more I participate in guided reading the more I see the benefits of guided reading for students. I suggest diving in and going head first if you haven’t tried it. Also try this with writing and math or any other subject you teach.

    Below are two websites that really spells it out for people considering starting guided reading. I suggest reading them.




    • Laura Dillon 9:54 pm on October 15, 2014 Permalink

      I also teach first grade and run 5 groups in my guided reading. I have my students rotate through stations during the week; word word, work on writing, computer, read to self and work with teacher. The 5 groups allow me to touch on many items throughout our guided reading time, and add in specifics for each group or stations that needs more attention. It also allows me comfort knowing that my students are split up accordingly and all have a goal to reach in that 50minute period. It takes a while until we are “ready” for guided reading though. Today actually, was our first day of guided reading this year! It has taken 6 weeks up until now to train the students to work in groups, and staying focused on said tasks while being able to produce meaningful work! I know it will still take a few more weeks until they are running smoothly, but training is key!!

    • Aviva (@avivaloca) 9:35 pm on October 15, 2014 Permalink

      Bill, like you, I definitely see the value in guided reading. This year in Grade 1, based on my student needs, I run 3-4 guided reading and/or guided writing groups a day. (I don’t think that I’ve ever done so many!) I also do small group instruction in math. I don’t think that anything benefits students more than this small group time, and even my young students know the importance of not interrupting this time.

      That being said, I’m not sure that I totally agree with you on “jumping into guided reading.” If we jump in too fast without adequate preparation, what’s the impact on our learners? How do we ensure that the rest of the class is working independently, and doing so in a meaningful way? I think that many, if not all, teachers understand the benefits in small group instruction, but the question becomes, how to do so well? Can we really have a discussion on guided reading and not look at this question? What would you suggest to teachers that are struggling in this area? What have you noticed that does work well? I think it would be great if many people shared their ideas so that we can all benefit.

      Thanks for starting this discussion!

  • wforrest 6:45 pm on October 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: #critical #literacy #harsh #fact #mrbillforrester   

    Not Teaching Digital Literacy is Teaching Students to Become Illiterate 

    Three main discussions and readings inspired me for this posting. The Ministry of Education’s monograph – Critical Literacy , a video by George Couros @gcouros, and the #hwdsb focus of critical literacy.

    Today’s students are trying trying to take a drink from a fire hose when getting information from the internet was a concept introduced to me in a speech by Sam an #HWDSB student. The more I thought about it, the more I realized he is right. Teacher’s can’t be the keepers of all knowledge, how can we ever compare to the amount of information the internet possesses! Teachers need to teach digital literacy and teach students to be critical of the media around them.

    In order for teachers to teach critical literacy a few things need to happen. We need to develop and maintain a culture that embraces digital media and teach students how to interpret these messages. Teachers must embrace students’ beliefs, interests and backgrounds and understand they are creating their own identity from a diverse population of influences. We must consider students’ ideas and ensure all are represented in an equitable way.

    When teaching digital literacy we must realize all messages on the internet have meaning and contain a belief that each person may see differently. We must know that different media sources serve different purposes and they each have their own language that we must try and help students to decode.

    Youtube is a great example of multiple media sources coming at a student in any given time. When I was a child, a sample conversation went like this…Did you watch G.I. Joe yesterday and all my friends would say yes at the same time and we would all start talking about it. Today’s conversations are different, students are getting their information from the internet and it would be my guess that close to every student in your class has their own favourite Youtube channel and there is little duplication. My point is this, the source of information is so much more vast than just a few years ago, we need to teach students to understand what they are seeing, not try to control it.

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