This week in the 210 at Lakewood Elementary!

Hey everyone!

Trying hard to do this more often now, things are finally starting to settle down a tad, so now I get a little more time to dabble in my passion projects!

So, my buddy Brian Aspinall, just posted; ‘It’s Friday, what was the most memorable moment this week’? Well…buddy we had a few!! So, here we go!

This week was the Global Microsoft Skypeathon; which was another incredible experience, where we travelled across the Globe to India, Kenya, Africa, California, Florida, Malaysia and chatted with some very incredible, inspiring people right here in Ontario, Canada as well; such as Derek Tangredi (Micro:bit Workshop), Lia DeCicco Remu (A view within the Grade 6 Classroom, Amy and Stu McLearn (Entrepeneuralship and Write to Give), Melissa Young (Cardio Blast / DPA) and Mr. Brian Aspinall (Makey Makey / Scratch Workshop)…so many other fantastic people to like Ms. Cavers, Jason Heritage (and his daughter Laura, it was take your child to work day), Sam and Philip down in Africa too!

It was a great two busy, exhausting but incredible days!

But, that was not the moment that stood out for me this week. One of the connections we had was with Stu and Amy McLearn and one of the students had mentioned she would love to create a YouTube Channel sharing her thoughts and opinions on music. Stu suggested a Podcast like his Marketing Your Business Podcast. So, here is the moment that made my week….this gal; E was curious, asked lots of great questions that day after school and also asked if I knew of any great Apps to use to create a Podcast. I have a few in mind so I mentioned those but I said go home do some homework and find something that is great.

The next day E and I explored ‘Anchor’ we walked through the templates and created a ‘Mock Podcast’, and she was hooked! She said; ‘Be ready Monday Mr. Archer, I will have one ready for you!’ That was the moement, that gal was inspired by Stu and I in turn was inspired by her! Therefore I reflected on my past thought and concept of attempting one myself and decided, dang if she is going to try why not do it myself?!!?

So, I created ‘Archer’s TNT Classroom’ Podcast which is now avaliable on Anchor, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Radio Public, Pocket Casts, and Spotify….crazy eh?!?! Curious….check this out….https://anchor.fm/joe-archer

So, there you have it pal. That was my moment this week, while trying to inspire others I became inspired by one of my students!

Microsoft Tools in the Classroom

Oh it’s been a while, been super busy, but going to jump in for a short and sweet blog posting about how I use a Microsoft Tool in the Classroom.

The tool I am going to share is amazing; OneNote….but what makes this tool that much better is how I can integrate it with multiple other user interfaces with ScreenBeam, Lifeliqe and the OneNote Clipper.

Within my classroom I love using and integrating OneNote into programming. Not only does it make photocopying cheaper (as we can screen shot a worksheet and embed it into our Archer’s Grade 6 OneNote Classroom within our Math / Literacy sections (or anything for that matter), but it also allow all my students to access the same material within their abilities.

What I mean by this is that those whom struggle with reading can use the Immersive Reader to help gain understanding of the content. Students can also use digital inking to highlight key information, details from text to help answer questions. Students can also video record their answers to questions or even voice to text written material within their sections of their personal OneNote Student Pages within Our Classroom OneNote Binder.

I can immediately provide feedback, via inking, videos, checklists and rubics with easy clicks and digital ink. OneNote is my go to for my students and also as an Educator for Pedagocial Documentation! My mark book has numerous, voice recordings of students reading, photos, videos, inserted sway / powerpoint / kahoot and then some links and embedded documents.

One of my favourite pieces is how I can also allow parents access into thier child’s personal spaces within the notebook. I empower my students to share links from thier work within their binders with family and friends, sways and pwoerpoints as well.

OneNote is the be all end all in my opinion! But, when I can embed and grab material from something as interactive and incredible as a program life Lifeliqe with the OneNote Clipper and embed into the Content Area or even Collaboration Space to spark conversation this tool goes beyond spectacular! Now, when I tweak and go the distance with some wicked amazing classroom agility using my ScreenBeam with Classroom Commander that allows me to see student screens live (see what they are working on, or not), freeze their screens for ‘teachable moments’, share links and documents I want them to investigate further, or read with shoulder partners etc…it takes my teaching to new hieghts and levels that allow me to maintain classroom management, student leaders to share material with a click of a button without leaving their seat with ease too!

Add in another one of my favourites; the G-Hold (Large Size Pop Socket for Computers) I can now be extremly mobile, engaging (yes, I talk often with my hands as I am often elated with wicked content in grade 6). G-hold makes my life easier as I can be mobile and engaging without worrying that I will drop my incredible Microsoft Surface Pro Computer (which I love, love, love too).

All in all, OneNote and all these incredible add-ons / add-ins make my life as an educator so much more enjoyable and fun! I have added much more depth to my pedagogy, delivery of content and 21st century usage and implementation of the 21st century competencies within my classroom helping me merge students into 21st century learners, collaborators and problem solvings on a global scale!

To be perfectly honest Microsofts O365 Suite of incredible apps and programs make a teachers dream of a cohesive, engaging, global classroom a reality! I love my apple phone, I love my Ipad BUT there is ONE and ONLY computer for me and that is MY Microsoft Surface Pro…..the best part is all my favourite tools and applications are accessible across all my vast devices no matter Apple or Microsoft, I can easily pop back in forth across devices with ease to make my job much easier and fluent!

I cannot stress enough how much more I enjoy and love my job while using Microsoft Tools such as OneNote!! A few honorable mentions; Teams, Sway (love it), Powerpoint, Flipgrid (a newbie to the collection), OneDrive (my storage dream come true), Office Lens, OneNote Classroom and my Global Go-To; Skype! so many more to choose from too!

Want to learn more about these tools!?!? Ask away, always willing to share my love and passion for these incredible products that make teaching incredible! My classroom is a 21st century room because of Microsoft and these wicked ‘awesome-sauce’ tools!

Write to Give (Kenya, Africa)….was so much more!

Well…its been a week since returning home and yet I am still overwhelmed with the experience and floods of emotions I am continuously revisiting. This trip to Kenya, Africa took me places that I did not know existed….not physically but emotionally, sentimentally and life altering.

The true beauty and physical nature in Africa was beyond words and truly incredible, and a friend told me once down there, something would always tie you and pull you back. Its only a week and as amazing as it has been being back home with my wife and kids, I would be lying if I said I was truly glad to be home.

I think the tie and or emotional attachment occurred once arriving at the schools; Shalom Primary and Ndatho Hope Primary School. There is a saying that goes, “Seeing is believing” which I am beyond humbled and proud to say I witnessed first hand the true power of a global connection, the invincible tie of the human spirit and powerful bond between two Nations coming together for a community to ignite, create and inspire HOPE.

Amy and Stu McLean has created something transformational! Being part of this inspiring adventure across the Ocean has lead me to new notions and beliefs on life. Amy and Stu created a movement 7 years ago with only $350 in a non-profit bank account, which has brought many Schools into International Displaced Communities throughout Kenya, Africa.

The mission from Write to Give was; to build confidence in children’s reading and writing, build global awareness for cultural differences and help other children in developing nations. The actual outcome….so so much more!

Walking into the school community seeing the students, teachers, parents and people you could truly see, but even more so feel the true impact that their inspiring movement has brought to the people of the community. People gathered by the hundreds when we arrived, welcomed us singing and joining hands to take us to their newly built school. Tears were seen throughout all that exited the vans, emotions flooded our souls and changed us in that moment! What we didn’t know nor understand was how the next few days would change us and move us in ways that were unforeseen!

Building days were particularly emotional whether it was the fathers from the community helping to build a path that would later be paved to the outdoor washrooms from the school, painting with the Momma’s or planting the hundreds of trees on the school grounds people from two drastically different Continents / Cultures and Race came together as one. Language barriers became obsolete, emotional bonds were created through blood, sweat and tears of pain raising 80-100 lbs stones that would line the path to the washroom, holes that were dug and sanding that was done on the wall within the school. The kids began working alongside each other white and black with the same mindset; ‘Together we CAN do it’.

One of the most incredible moments and something I still see, hear and feel more then a week later was when one Momma and a North American Donor found a common ground and love of the song ‘Amazing Grace’. They sang together in two languages, the crowd gathered and at that moment it was as if time stopped, as if humanity said “We are one, we are strong and we can do anything together”. Words cannot express the true moment in time…..you just had to be there!

One moment for me that was sentimental was being told I would get the oppertunity to share some of our Write to Give books with the teachers and students for their schools library. I always thought it was a fantastic concept and notion to Write for others and give back somehow, but being able to walk up to the schools bag in hand with 20+ Write to Give books, authored by Lakewood and Hagersville Elementary School children amongst’ other Canadian and America children and teachers was beyond fathomable! I am still trying to absorb that moment and cannot describe it and do it justice! I fought back tears, quivers of emotion during the 10-15 minute span that was touching, emotional and inspiring.

The kids were so incredibly excited to see brand new books! I actually seen a few roll the pages through their fingers, nose sniffing the smell of the new books, inhaling as if it was Grandma’s Thanksgiving Dinner. The Kenyan teachers eyes filled with tears of joy and pride when receiving the Write to Give books, I was embraced as if I was a long lost family member for bringing books…..seriously bringing books! Some of the kids actually tried running away with the books, but others stopped them and motioned for them to return them to the teachers so everyone could enjoy them within the schools library of roughly 100 books.

This was my piece of the pie that took me into something that I didn’t foresee; this moment bonded me and tied me to the school, the teachers and kids. My friend was right; I was tied and emotionally attached to Kenya and Africa in that moment! I cannot say enough about hope grateful and honored to be part of this incredible, inspiring adventure! Thank you soooo much Amy, Stu and Carey!

Looking ahead into this Write to Give program I want to share and say that for anyone intrigued and interested, take a leap of faith and just do it! The back end of things is beyond worth it. What I was able to experience has inspired me to do more and without a shadow of doubt this program is making a Village Impact

Amy and Stu had re-branded their non-profit to ‘Village Impact’ prior to this trip, such a fantastic name! The impact within the school communities is beyond words…but I did hear through one amazing kid; Eriksson (whom is 19) that “What you all have done is brought back HOPE to our communities”. Hope….this is still trickling through me.

Hope is described as; “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen” or “grounds for believing that something good may happen in the future” and yes, there is a new hope within these incredible communities; an inspiring movement where the children and families can experience education, learning and the world at their fingertips. Hope that they can be anything and anyone with the education they are obtaining. Hope to become one whom will inspire and give back to their communities, extend outward into the Country, Continent and even throughout the Globe! With hope, anything is possible, everything is a possibility and the sky is the limit!

While flying above the clouds on route home I had this glimmer or hope myself that I would return one day in the near future with my family to share this experience, but within a different role….I know deep down that from seeing the hope and belief within the eyes of those Kenyan kids that I will return one day, they will make the days ahead challenging yet emotionally worth it as I find a way to make an impact myself. This has been an experience of a lifetime, a journey that was life altering and has motivated me to pursue new creative and innovative concepts to reach out and help others to continue this movement of Hope alongside Village Impact!

I came to Kenya, Africa on slightly different terms then others, yet left inspired by the Kenyan’s and North Americans alike! I have never met so many incredible people with hearts made of gold, mindsets similar in nature to my own. Winning this trip was incredible, but I have to say I whole heartily believe that it was meant to be! I’ve been inspired and emotionally charged like never before….a new mindset and outtake on life itself and motivated to take a leap of faith and try the entrepreneur route in order to give back like they had, and even more so got the opportunity to see them all experience!

I need to do a big shout out to a few incredible people on the ground in Kenya, Africa; Edidah, Samuel, Philip and Irene! What you guys do is amazing, continue to push the limits and boundaries and do what you all do best! Hope starts with you all, inspire others with your work and hard effort everyday!

To all the incredible people I met along the way; thanks for taking me into your group, you are all inspiring and incredible in so many ways! I absolutely come home to Canada with a newfound faith in humanity for doing what is right and good throughout the globe because of you all!

Finally a huge thanks to Amy, Carey and Stu for all that you do….there are no words, just continue your cause as it truly has made a Village Impact!

Village Impact Trip (July 2018)

Jambo (Hello) Friends!

Wow, I cannot believe I am 11 days out from leaving on a trip of a lifetime with Village Impact (formerly known as Write to Give). If anyone is unsure or even unaware of this incredible foundation a former Port Doverite; Amy McLearn founded and would love more information please visit Building a Better Future and Village Impact (you can also make contributions on this site if you wish).

I have been looking at this experience and thinking constantly over the last year since winning this opportunity, and I still am numb and cannot believe its officially happening soon!

I became involved with this project through twitter, when I heard of the incredible impact it was having on people overseas through Write to Give. This is a fantastic program that I have been running within my classrooms for the last two years where my students and four other classrooms get together and create a book focusing on a character attribute designated to us. The books are then published by Scholastic which then can be purchased online for $15, which then goes directly to Amy’s foundation building schools in Africa. The writing process is incredible with your students (I cannot say enough about the totality of the entire experience) and best of all they become published authors! I am hoping to find their Published Books within the schools I am visiting shortly!!

This year over 50 students (Grade 5/6 – Archer’s and 2/3 – Samborski / Dubinsky) from Lakewood Elementary became published authors writing The Adventures of Mr. Waddles (please see the link to purchase that particular book in Hardcover, Softcover, Ebook or Audiobook format) as my students worked with our French Immersion Reading Buddies, Mr. Jonathon So, Mrs. Maureen Richardson and Mrs. Kristine Hollway classrooms all from Southern Ontario within our Collaborative OneNote Binder for this project.

This trip itself is 11 days of pure ‘Impact’…I love the new branding they decided upon as I know it WILL have a huge impact on my life during and afterwards as well! I am still trying to think and consider what could / would I do to have an impact afterwards and I know right now going into the experience that something will come alive and be discovered during the adventure!

At Lakewood this year Liz Cavers and I hosted Lakewood Elementary’s first ever ‘Cardboard Arcade’ (If you have not heard about this please visit Caines Arcade and of coarse my good friend and daredevil educator Lee Martin for more information and resources for your classroom). During which, the students decided they wanted to find a way to help / support and make an impact themselves on Students in Africa. As a school Lakewood raised $250 from this event where students donated $1 for a ‘Fun Pass’ to experience the Cardboard Arcade games Liz Caver’s and my students created using ‘Old School Arcade Games’ and their creative flare! These funds will be used to purchase pencil cases full of school supplies for the kids in Africa…..I cannot wait to share photos when I arrive at Ndatho Hope Primary School with our students!! This week I will be visiting Port Dover’s; Lakeside Savings to purchase the items for the pencil cases for the students (its always important to support local business’ whenever possible).

This is a link Africa; Village Impact Trip to the OneNote Binder I created for this particular trip. I love sharing and would hope that my personal experience can lead to some ‘impactful thought’ for others, which is why I created this binder to follow alongside the journey I am taking.

I will try my best to utilize the time to share / document (photo’s / video’s / etc…) during the trip for all to see and experience! You can follow via Twitter; @ArcherJoe or Facebook; Joe Archie as well.

Kwa heri (Goodbye) and Asante (Thank you!) for following along!

 

Micro:bits in the Classroom

Hey everyone!

Hope you are all enjoying the start of the summer! Looking forward to presenting tomorrow at MakerEdTO on ‘Micro:bits in the Classroom’

I have been thinking and contemplating how and what to really share and show; however I know walking away from these amazing ‘retreats’ or as my wife loves to call them; ‘Nerd-fests’ …. (yes I am a nerd and geek and proud of it) I always come home engaged yet thoroughly overwhelmed and exhausted from all the incredible learning. Therefore, this year I am taking a more passive voice with things and sharing material, resources and options to explore throughout the summer!

Included within my presentation deck are many, many links and resources to all things Micro:bits that I have gathered and obtained over the last couple of years! I will discuss and share a few cool projects I completed with my students in the classroom, but otherwise leave it entirely up to each individual to explore, take a leap of faith and try out something incredibly wild and crazy and engaging for all within your classroom next year!

I wholeheartedly believe that we learn more what we WANT to learn or that we are ENGAGED in, therefore passive is the action I will be taking….I will introduce, share the basic ‘how to do’s’, show some cool options and resources to support each persons individual learning and let you all explore!

Here is a copy of my slide deck: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1W0aSmTSRREkOgTOTbYgDUq06Vh-w1GAKHtH193NaCZE/edit?usp=sharing

Looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow!

NTIP Mentoring

As an Educator, we sign up as life long learners, people whom transfer knowledge, trades, manners and employable skills to those that was within our schools and classrooms. Walking into my 10th year of teaching I am still learning, but also beginning to master the art of mentoring.

I love receiving our ‘Professionally Speaking’ magazine on a monthly bases, and in this months copy there is an article that hit near and dear for me! Jennifer Lewington wrote ‘Sharing Wisdom; The Power of Teacher Mentorship’. Mentoring is something near and dear to me, especially the NTIP program! This is currently my 3rd year being involved as a mentor, which extends my mentoring from, Highschool Co-op, College (Mohawk/ Fanshawe E.C.E programming), University and Student Teaching from various institutions.

Looking back at my time learning the art of teaching I had amazing educators mentoring me, which is why I give back today. The experience I had was incredible and I to this day feel that I am where I am because of all the great support I had from various people during my high school co-op, college placements, university work placements and teachers college student teaching.

I love how Ms. Lewington referred to the professional learning relationship between the ‘seasoned practitioner’, whom shared experience-infused insights with a classroom newcomer. The theme of mentoring throughout the NTIP program not only supports the newcomer, but also “Fosters an exchange of knowledge” as Lewington shared. I see the exchange of knowledge a ‘joint effort’ as a seasoned teacher now I gain so much from my mentee’s as they may from myself. I love the concept of ‘Habit of Mind’ that Lewington shared; the mindset in which I call ‘Growth Mindset’ from George Curios, in that the pwoer of educators is a collaborative process. We Educators are creators of habit; we work on a daily / weekly schedule before, during and after hours. Habitual experiences become stale and without constant learning could become detrimental to pedagogical practice!

The true power behind the NTIP program is a partnership of professional learning community. In its simplest form a partnership, but in totality is the beginning of the process for the mentee at creating, maintaining and utilizing other educators as a professional learning community. For me twitter helps me stay connected, helps me reach out for support, share successes and learning from failures.

The article within ‘Professional Speaking’ shared that; ‘Over the previous 3 year period it found new teachers experienced sustained professional growth in four very key areas; confidence, efficacy, instructional practices and commitment to continuous learning’. This is also what we try to instill within our students as well, which is ironic we are seeing this with our new teachers, therefore we must be on the right path! This also reflects the pillars within the Ethical Stands for the Teaching Profession (care, respect, trust and integrity) and the Standards for Practice for the Teaching Profession (commitment to students, leadership and professional knowledge, practice and ongoing learning). NTIP has aligned nicely with our students and new teachers alike!

Finding the right people for a professional learning network (PLN) is key. There are and will always be strengths and weaknesses in everyone, for me it is math. It is the PLN that helps support our weaknesses, which is my twitter PLN incorporates many, many math icons in the profession. They have encourage professional learning online, face to face and shared articles, reflections and resources to help reduce my weaknesses and change my mindset still to this day, 9 years after completing the NTIP program.

I recall one conversation with my mentor; Mark (whose wife I am now working with at Lakewood) said “We can always learn something everyday, we will always need to adapt and change our pedagogical practises throughout our career, stay fresh stay networked and connected” and I would hope that Mark would be proud today as I am very much still learning, very connected (3000 + on twitter, facebook, microsoft community, etc…) and always reading; much of which comes from Dave Burgess Publishing for various educational materials.

My message I share love to share is strikingly similar to my mentee’s; get networked and connected, be reflective in your practice, ask questions and take risks, don’t be afraid of failure as it is the first steps in learning. I look back on those that worked alongside me; my mentee’s (I never see things as one way either) professionally we are all equal, we are all educators whether we are teachers, educational assistants, early childhood educators or administrators……we work hard for the students walking through the school doors.

NTIP allows me to begin instilling the passion for life long learning, networking, connections, teamwork, collaboration and most of all a growth mindset into fresh faces walking into this amazing career. This is and will always be one of the most enjoyable and meaningful aspects within my career!

NTIP mentoring is something I am extremely proud to be part of….after 25+ years of teaching I would love to reflect and say not only did I make an impact with the students coming into my classroom BUT I also made an impact within the practice itself of education! My footprint will be heard, shared and passed along from my mentee’s as I have from my mentors…..and from my mentee’s, mentee’s in the future as well (at least I hope) as my message is and will always be, don’t thank me in gifts, thank me by inspiring the next generation of teachers and the students walking through your doors as I have done for my past mentors; Dennis Wright, Mark Smith, Karen Baldwin, Diane Clark and Janice Hughes and for my current mentors; my students, Brian Aspinall, Martha Jez, Derek Tangredi, Johnathon So, Lee Martins and so many more via twitter!

In closing; inspire and infuse a passion for life long learning!

CodeBreaker Rocks!!

Oh boy, finally have a wee little time to finally do this…

I was incredibly excited to hear that; The One, The Only, Crazy Rockstar Educator Brian Aspinall wrote a fantastic book called; Code Breaker!!

Also for those of you whom do not know he has a Tweetmeet tomorrow at 9 am EST at #CodeBreaker, which I was incredibly excited to join as a host a couple months ago, as I absolutely love incorporating Coding within my classroom!

So, this is more of a shout out then anything for this INCREDIBLE book! Brian takes such an abstract concept and idea and makes it REAL for all, whether you are a newby or more advance this book has something for everyone!

I love his QR links to his remarkable Blogs, Lessons, Activities that you can adapt and use within your classroom tomorrow! That’s right you heard it, tomorrow people!! With or Without ANY PRIOR KNOWLEDGE you can and will be successful IF you take the leap and get this book at https://amzn.to/2K1R3m0

I love George Couros’ comment ‘Brian puts a human face on coding and helps the reader understand it not just for computer geeks…’ so true, Brian takes his witty yet inspiring philosophy of learning with computational thinking using Scratch and various other means to bring coding down to earth for everyone and anyone!

Curriculum is always at the heart of the classroom learning, and Brian takes his passion in coding to engage his audience whether it be young or old. He demonstrates various means of using coding for assessment but in a meaningful, thoroughly engaging manner for students!

Best part of any book is personalization within the book from the author; this book takes you to the beginning with Papert, to a peak within Brian’s classroom, to pooping babies algorithms (don’t ask just buy it…..so worth it), to developing a growth mindset in students learning and work to instill resiliency in learning to trouble shoot, problem solve and overcome failures! He explains how failures are fantastic opportunities for learning as it IS about the process more-so then the product!

Within this engaging, witty read you will find yourself within coding projects, dabbling and trying things out! Jump in and learn alongside your students….become a Coding Ninja as Brian takes you into the incredible world of Coding!

Looking forward to seeing posts of peoples journeys!

Thanks Brian for continuing to inspire!! You ARE The Man!!

 

#MSFTIncludEd; The Future…

Well, its that time again…I was hoping some inspirational would have occurred to launch into this blog from the Olympics, but something else caught my eye a bit…the Florida School Shooting….inspirational, I think not, sad? Yes, could have been prevented? Without a shadow of doubt! So, #Launching (this will be explained in a bit) into the future I see Microsoft at the forefront of things.

Currently I am a huge supporter with Microsoft; I see so many valued, inclusive aspects into programs, applications and whatnot for diversity in learning and accessibility / inclusive education. When I find something I love, I get behind it and help, support, promote it as much as I can! There was a recent blog posting from another key Team / Company; Fair Chance Learning shared on Twitter;

Yes, an oldie but definitely good! This article explains 5 key things assistive technology can do for kids;

  1. Gives kids confidence (Text-to-Speech / Spell Checking etc…)
  2. Students can better reach potential (Voice Synthesizers etc…)
  3. It can help them become more independent (Speech Recognition and LiveScribe pens)

#MSFTIncludEd (Present) Inclusion

So, being that we are working within February a fantastic month for inclusive education as we also have the accessibility / inclusiveness embedded within the 2018 Olympic Winter Games too. I was watching the new on TV this morning and Tom Renney (Hockey Canada’s President) and he was congratulating and setting up for the announcement of Canada’s Sledge Hockey Team heavily favored to win this year in the Olympics!

I was very humbled and honored to be Canadian in that moment as family, friends and people from from around our Great Nation celebrated and honored our representatives in a sport near and dear to my heart in hockey! Our Country speaks volumes to accessibility and feature of inclusiveness from coast to coast!

So, with that I now lead into my months exploration into exclusiveness….last week I reflected upon the past in my blog http://sites.granderie.ca/jarcher/2018/02/04/146/

This posting is on a current situation occurring within my classroom….actually two as I am having trouble deciding upon which would be best to share. So, let start with my friend ‘R’….whom is on an IEP functioning in a low grade 1-2 grade level in reading and writing. Very few sight words are easily recognized within print, which makes decoding extremely difficult when he sounds words letter by letter, as blends and whatnot do not work well for him too. Therefore, we regrouped and really focused on his comprehension strategies, as technology now can read aloud for him, while using classroom tablets and now his own personal device using Office Lens (with OCR scanning capabilities) OneNote Learning Tools and now even Word. His comprehension skills will be something he will require now and also in the future.

R has become very proficient at utilizing Office Len and OneNote….handouts, worksheets are independently scanned inserted within a Classroom OneNote student section where R then dives into the Learning Tools features to have his document / reading / article (which ever it is) read aloud. He then is able to highlight and control what sentences are being read, paragraph by paragraph, question by question and then using voice dictation inserts his answers to questions as if there was no need for an IEP or previously required scribes to complete any given task. Seems intense, yet with a fair amount of training, re-training, failures, re-builds, and finally complete and utter happiness being able to fully independently do all this on his own….R can now partake in literature circles, classroom discussions and book clubs! R typically kept to himself and was really shy I think because he couldn’t partake before and be one within his class without requiring direct one to one assistance to complete anything. As we know this is far from ideal in grade 6, therefore self confidence and self-esteem has drastically changed and altered….he was also a frequent behaviour problem as well, mostly because he couldn’t partake and instead of being identified as unable or in kids minds ‘stupid’ he choose to act out.

Now, this fella is a big part of our classroom. His simple BYOD cell phone, which ONLY has access to Wifi allows him to be immersed and involved in all classroom inquiries and activities….actually a sought out partner by many as his friends love the ease of access to information his phone can now provide him with. His skills in OneNote with Learning Tools have now been transferred into Word with the Immersive Tools now within those as well….even better that they are also in Apps now too! This guy used to wear a hood over his head within the classroom, not confident at all, shy very quiet. Now after walking within the classroom, he pulls his hood off….this is the ONLY sign I need to see after all the hard work put in with R this year! Successful, proud teaching moment each day when he walks to our door with his hood on, but pulls it off once seating within the classroom! Yahoo

Now my other friend; D. Again an IEP student for reading and writing. I tried hard to lump D and R together into the same mix using the same tools but D was not taking to things as easily and eagerly as R, so I did what all great teachers do…..regrouped…walked away thinking, watching and learning this guys interests and found it in technological aspects in Coding with Micro:bits and also Minecraft….be patient on this one as I try to explain.

Starting with Micro:bits D found an extreme love and fascination with these cool little devices instantly (actually asking to write an interest talk on Micro:bits), which was fantastic as he avoided writing tasks before! Best part…..he wrote his talk within the programming and used the Micro:bits LEDs to share his messages….with simple ‘when A pressed…’ he had it display ‘this’ or ‘when B pressed….’; it displayed ‘that’….(all written out….edited and spell checked as I said we CANNOT show and share errors on this awesome devices). He also dived deeper into the programming, adding in his voice which read his written script he wrote out and recorded. D programmed his Micro:bit ‘When tilted left / right / up / down / shaked’ to say various things he learned about it during research with another web based tool he used on his SEA equipment; Microsoft Edge. Edge allowed him to screen shot, read within the browser, highlight key points he liked and copy / paste into a new word doc….which then using the immersive reader read his script to him in one ear while he then repeated it into the Micro:bits Coding. D also used alligator clips and attached them to ear buds for his audience….one at a time (myself and a few friends). This is one of two events I want to share about this guy!

Second one; Minecraft. We tried a Terry Fox ‘Point of View’ writing task, which was slightly painful for D! Pencil and paper are not his strengths, his writing is legible and spelling is good, but he has no interest in it. So, one day I had a fantastic Skype Lesson / Meeting with Katja Borregaard whom showed us how to use blackboards, NVP’s, Portfolios, Selfies and so much more. D walked away from this Skype lesson excited! He was not 100% sure on how to do some of the things Katja shared so we explored them that week together. Gathered a few Minecraft Masters (expert students) whom taught both myself and D how to using and incorporate them into his world.

D went to work one day, math was coming up (a BIG strength of his and he always eagerly looks forward to math) and D came up to me and asked if he could keep writing  and skip math that day. Now, my first thought was no, but I was also taken back upon the request that he wanted to keep writing! So, I thought what the heck! He is strong enough in math to miss one, so for S&%$s and giggles, I let him go at it……so thankful I did! D not only wrote from Terry Fox’ point of view but mapped out his route in Minecraft with signs of roads and a few highlights along the route for big events. Along the way Terry NVPs told his POV of the run….the thoughts and feelings, anxieties, hopes, fears and pain. I have to also mention this….of the grade 5/6’s (some of whom are gifted), D’s work was within the top 5 for this given assignment. Now being the rather ‘odd’ teacher that I am not providing grades, my feedback and conference with him brought tears to my eyes and his as well! He was ecstatic too…..now my troubles with D is trying to get him to try other things outside Minecraft….as you can imagine being autistic is difficult enough!! (I know eh….I wanted to share that earlier but I thought the impact would be more powerful now).

So, my ‘Present’ Accessibility / Inclusive Ed blog posting concludes….I am working on parents a bit to share more from these actual events, however being individuals whom struggled with the education system, its not quite a leap they are able to take at this time.

Next week I dive into the future of accessibility / inclusiveness in education…I cannot wait to watch and see if I can pull in some Olympic Magic into that posting….I always love the closing ceremony, especially when the torch / flame is passed to ‘The Youth of the World’ to meet again in four years….fitting I believe as a walking in point!

Until then, looking forward to hearing more from others!

Write to Give…

Here we are now into the first week of Write to Give. This year I have again taken on the Ambassador role and devised, pulled together a dynamite team of educators in Maureen Richardson, Kristine Hollaway, Johnathan So and our reading / coding buddies classroom for the illustrations.

As, the last couple years; this year I am diving deeper into the meaning behind the words we are using within our section ‘Characters and Setting’ as we set the tone, and pace, events within the descriptive words used will writing our section for the rest of the book….to some degree! I am excited to share and see what comes from our ‘subtle inferred meanings’ behind the words and seeing / wondering if other teachers / students ‘see / recognize’ what we could be trying to do!

Another thing I want to try out this year is providing a dialogue between classrooms via OneNote and Skype while writing the book within given parameters. So, for instance once our section is completed it gets submitted. The next and ONLY the next classroom can see that. On the following Friday (next Friday) I would love to touch base after that classroom submits there section, and discuss the outcome. Provide our ‘brainstorming thoughts and feelings’ (Section within our Tab in the OneNote) and see if that teacher / classroom read between the lines and analyze whether or not our ‘subtle inferred meanings’ were indeed deep enough or slightly weak. Also a discussion on why or why they did not go with what we were thinking as well!

This process; otherwise known as the editing process ‘as editors’ will allow me to help support my students, other classrooms as well in character, plot development in their own writing as it did last year when teaching in grade 3 at Hagersville Elementary.

I love Write to Give! I think there is so much we can pull out of this experience for all students; mine and those in Africa and those involved from the other classrooms as well!

What makes this year that much more special is the fact that this July 2018 I am travelling down to Africa alongside Amy and Carey from Write to Give to visit some the of the school’s being built from the effort and teamwork of our students!

Anyways, Write to Give has officially launched and thoroughly looking forward to this event, process and the outcome at the end for my schools and those in Africa!

Until next time…we all have a ‘Write to Give’ back or to those less fortunate…how will you, your students and school pay it forward in the duration of the school year?!?!