This year I have been greatly inspired from a Teacher-Librarian at another school, who has been an expert at garnering support for reading amazing Canadian Literature! More specifically – The Forest of Reading from the Ontario Library Association.
What I love most about what she does, is that she has built a strong global sense of community around literacy and amazing Canadian literature ….. and for pleasure … not for standardized teaching and testing purposes.
This is the kind of situation that I have only dreamed about ..
a situation where every teacher and student in the school know all about the books, have heard and read at least some of the books, and can discuss the books anytime, anywhere, and with anyone.
She works directly with the classrooms as well, and as a result, individual conferencing is able to take place – which is proving to be much for valuable than studying levelled books and passages. The halls are adorned with chart paper and the names of the books of the Forest of Reading program in them – a place for students to write comments and questions about the books, and a goal setting bulletin board.
SAMR redefinition already happening, just without the technology.
This is community building at its finest, and it is all happening around the books from the Forest of Reading.
I am so inspired by what is going on. To me, this is what ‘it‘ is all about.
Now, I love using educational technology – but for realistic and beneficial purposes. I am very pragmatic, yet optimistic about edtech can, and cannot do – a firm believer that it is not about the technology, but what we do with it. It is paramount to me to promote community building surrounding the merging of traditional and digital literacies. I figure that if educators can build the metaphorical online structures, then the students will have that place to go.
There are not many ‘places’ on the internet for students to go that are purposefully created for them in this way.
I wanted to springboard on these amazing ideas already happening in this school, and provide a ‘technological framework’ to connect and grow a community of readers connecting online. I set up twitter account, blog, facebook, tagboard, and storify technologies. It has garnered a lot of interest, and I hope that the seeds have been planted to grow even more next year.
However, this was not without its barriers. This idea was met with various kinds of comments including .. ‘well other schools already have blogs up and running surrounding the Forest of Reading, you know‘ -or – ‘you know that other schools are doing really great and innovative things with technology‘…Look, I ‘get’ that it may not ‘seem’ innovative, nor all that technological at first glance. But the opportunities truly are endless.. from blogs, Book Trailers, QR codes, twitter and google hangouts — we take it beyond the technology itself – to meaningful longterm community learning and literacy. There are amazing educators out there who are already redefining learning, and I just think that we can grow those learning communities when we use tech. We are looking at digital literacy becoming a natural extension of traditional literacy – not an add-on, or a different entity all together. Just think of the possibilities if we are able to redefine ordinary classroom literacy lessons.
Currently, we have students connecting with authors, illustrators and publishers; we have students connecting in meaningful ways with teachers, and other students they have never met. We have students creating their own book trailers without even being asked! We have students reading and discussing the books over twitter – students who have never before read for pleasure. We have learners engaging meaningfully in literacy because the twitter format works so much better for them than anything else ever has. The bottom line is, because they love the ‘framework’ that has been built, and they love the sense of community and connection that can happen outside the four walls of the traditional classroom.
No, this is NOT about the technology, or technologies used. To me, this is about using technology to build the ‘frameworks’ that the students, teachers, community members can engage with. The structures to connect people across time and space to share knowledge and ideas about the books. To give students a framework that they can engage with outside of school hours if they want – a safe place to engage in a love of literature. Which, I believe is the essence of improving literacy scores – if that is what our ultimate goal is.
Far better than standardization in my humble opinion.
I do not have all the answers, just the passion and drive to use technology in ways that makes it about the love of learning, and community building. Next we will be having students using Google Hangouts with students in another school to teach them how to engage with book trailers and other cool edtech — all about their favourite Forest of Reading books – and just in time for the big vote!
I do hope that you will join us in our ‘LiteracyCommons’: sites.google.com/site/digitalpublishing ; twitter @SCDSBForest and @forestofreading and @SCDSBbookclubs (after the official Forest of Reading vote until next fall:)
I really hope you will join us in creating an online community of readers! We want to connect with you over the years to come:)
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