Education Is Power

At the beginning of the school year, I read a post on George Couros’ blog about a little girl named Emily. This post really resonated with me. Emily is a student at George’s school, and she sounds like the most amazing child. George speaks about all of her incredible gifts, and he also speaks about the fact that Emily is autistic. Emily has a service dog that accompanies her to school each day, and this dog helps calm Emily during difficult situations. Until this post, I never heard about having a service dog for autism, but George’s post definitely intrigued me, and Emily and her mom definitely made an impact on me.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I saw a tweet from George about Emily. Her mom, Alison, published a book called If My Dog Could Talk, and it was all about Emily’s day-to-day life with her service dog, Levi. The book looked amazing, and so I ordered a copy. It arrived on Wednesday, and on Thursday, I decided to read it to the class.

Over the year, we have already spoken a lot about autism, and the students can all connect to having a child in the class that is autistic. Maybe it was the photographs in the book, or the rhyming verses on each page, or just the simplicity of the text that instantly had all of my students loving, If My Dog Could Talk. After reading the book, I mentioned that Emily went to Mr. Couros’ school — all of my students know of this principal from Alberta, as he has inspired many classroom activities too — and right away they wanted to connect with her.

We have been working on “point of view” in the classroom, so we looked at some of the different photographs in Alison’s book, and we talked about what the dog might be thinking on each page. The students then chose to draw pictures of an event in the book and add a thought bubble or two, inferring what Levi might be thinking at this time. I mentioned to the students that I follow Alison on Twitter, and so they thought that it would be great if we could make a VoiceThread and share the link with her. We did just that!

This sharing had amazing results. On Friday night, I got these tweets from Alison:

Alison's First Tweets To Me

When I wrote her back and said that she could definitely share these links, I noticed that not only is our VoiceThread on her webpage, but it has also been tweeted out to numerous people from around the world.

All Linked To Our VoiceThread

All Linked To Our VoiceThread

I even got numerous tweets from Nancy, another parent at George Couros’ school, asking about our VoiceThread and saying how much she enjoyed it.

Alison’s book really helped my students understand what autism is all about. Her book educated us, and now we can help educate others too. Thank you, Alison and Emily, for showing us that education really is power!


Fun, Fun, And More Fun!

About To Get Messy ... And Loving It!

I think that the smile on this student’s face says it all. When my students got ready for home today, one child said to me, “Miss Dunsiger, today was the best day ever! It was awesome!” And you know what? I completely agree! I was still giggly with excitement when I got home tonight.

Today was Winnie the Pooh Day for my Grade 1 students, and while they had a special celebration with the other Grade 1 classes, my Grade 2 students stayed with me for an Experiment Day. We’ve been learning about liquids and solids since just before the Winter Holidays, and today was the day for the students to apply what they learned.

As you’ll see in this Animoto slideshow, the students were happy all day long. They worked in partners to complete five different activities. They mixed liquids and solids and reflected on what they learned about liquids and solids. They created, they problem-solved, they collaborated, and they got very, very messy: it was amazing!

A couple of years ago, I read Fish For Schools, and the Fish Philosophy emphasizes the importance of play. I remember when teachers were being inserviced on “Fish,” and the question was, do we have time to play with our students? Today was just one of many experiences that showed me that we do!

We need to play with our students. We need to talk to them, and laugh with them, and have fun with them, and learn with them too! Today, I definitely did all of this, and that’s why, at 6:30 on a Friday night, I’m still smiling about my day at school.

And even with all of this play, and all of this fun, when my Grade 2 students worked together at the end of the day today to add sticky notes to a Lino Wall discussing what they learned, here is what they had to say. They learned a lot! Yeah!! I can’t wait for our next fun learning day. Please share your “fun learning experiences” here too. I would love to hear them!


P.S. A special “thank you” to @nsharoff, who suggested that I put my iPad in a Ziploc Bag before putting it at the Slime Centre. I think you saved the iPad! Glad I got your tweet with only moments to go before the bell. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Using the iPad for Self-Assessment

This week, the students started to self-assess their listening during Show and Tell. Together we made a list of Success Criteria and an evaluation method that lines up to the one we need to use on the Report Card.

Before Show and Tell each day, we read this Success Criteria, and then the students evaluate their listening at the end of the activity. I evaluate my listening too, as I often need reminders to keep my eyes on the speaker as well!:) In all seriousness though, the children love that I can learn and grow along with them, and they are always eager to hear how I evaluate myself.

Today though, I decided to add another element to this activity. I had students share why they gave themselves the mark that they did. They used the Audio Memos app on the iPad to record their thinking. Below are four examples of these recordings:





It’s interesting to hear what they have to say. As the year goes on, I’ll be curious to hear if their thinking changes.

Has anyone else used the iPad for self-assessment? How did you use it? What were the results? I would love to hear about your experiences too!


After The First Week: My Continued iPad Reflection

A Student Modelling The Write Pad App For The Rest Of The Class

My students have now been using an iPad in the classroom for a week. It’s been an amazing week too. They have loved writing on the iPad using theĀ Write Pad app, recording on the iPad using the Audio Memos app, creating puppet shows on the iPad using the Puppet Pals app, and blogging on the iPad using the Twitter for iPad app. The iPad is helping increase their excitement about learning and giving them meaningful opportunities to read, write, and create.

With my LCD projector working again, I have been able to model these iPad activities more, and I have had students modelling them for other students too. This really helps! The children are definitely more comfortable with using these apps, and they are eager to help others use them too.

I am still undecided about the auto-correct function. Some students are noticing that the word choices provided by the iPad are incorrect, but some aren’t. I will continue to model this though as we use the iPad for more writing activities. I think that using Write Pad will help as well, as Write Pad provides options for spelling, and this will assist the students with making more correct choices too. Thanks @techieang for the suggestion!

I can’t wait until this week when my students can show some Early Learning Kindergarten teachers and a consultant how they use the iPad in the classroom in conjunction with other tools too. This week, we will also be using Rory’s Story Cubes along with the Livescribe Pen to record stories. I can’t wait to see how this works!

Getting an iPad has definitely increased my learning curve, and I love being able to learn along with my students. I’d love to hear some of your “iPad Learning Experiences” too. It’s great when we can all learn together!


Day 2 Using The iPad: Continued Reflection

My students were very excited to see that we would be using the iPad again today. Everyone wanted to be the daily microblogger, and one of my Grade 1 students was thrilled when she found out that it was her turn. Below is a screenshot of the tweets from the @avivadunsiger account that she used to post her updates.

Just so you know, “plaster seen career” is really “plasticine creature.”:) Reading this tweet got me thinking about @dougpete‘s comment on yesterday’s blog post: how does “suggested spelling fare with inventive spelling?” I know that the iPad would have automatically corrected her spelling error for “creature” with “career,” and since this Grade 1 student doesn’t know the correct spelling for “creature” yet, she wouldn’t recognize the mistake. This makes me think about my approach to editing. I am going to have to show the students how to proofread their tweets, and not just assume that all words without a red underline are correct. Now that my LCD projector is working again, I can demonstrate this tomorrow, and then see what happens. Will this help the students with their spelling and with their editing skills too? I’m excited to see the results!

In addition to our tweeting activity, some different students used the iPad during Buddy Reading Time today to record their reading. Below are the links to two of the readings:



When going through the recordings today, I noticed that some of the students had difficulty getting a new audio file set-up. A couple of the recordings were saved at 0 seconds. I know that the groups problem-solved this together, but with the SMART Board up and running again, I think that we need to review theĀ Audio Memos app. Tomorrow I will have the students that know how to use Audio Memos teach the rest of the class using the Document Camera. I’m interested to see the results. Has anyone ever done this before? I would love any words of advice!

For an additional iPad activity, one student used the iPad to write about patterns for a Math Centre. @techieang recommended using Write Pad for word processing, so this student tried it out today. She was finding the writing part difficult, as the letters tended to overlap. With the LCD projector out of commission for the day, I wasn’t able to do a good job demonstrating how to write using this app, and I think that this was the reason for the problem. She problem-solved by choosing to type her pattern instead, but I would like to work more with the “printing” potential of this app. Tomorrow, I will use the document camera to demonstrate how to “print” on Write Pad, and get students involved practicing too. I think this will help. Does anyone else have some advice for what might work?

A special thank you to my amazing PLN that has taught me so much about the iPad in such a short time too! I know that these past two days have been so successful because of you. I look forward to learning even more from you in the coming weeks. Thanks for always being so willing to share!