Monday, 20 January 2014

We Asked and They Answered: Canadian Olympians Rule!

Have I mentioned lately that I love Twitter? If not, I absolutely love the power of Twitter and the connecting that occurs with it! Twitter continues to provide awesome connections for my grade 3 students including our new adventure with Olympians.

Do you ever experience that "Wow, did that just happen?" moment? My students and I did today! But before I share it, I should give the background information: this weekend I was planning an Olympic unit for my grade 3 class and was wanting to connect with some Canadian Olympians on twitter to ask questions to about being Olympians. The Canadian Olympic Team on twitter told me that on you can see which athletes are on Twitter and to ask them directly if they would answer our questions. So off I went to see which athletes were on twitter and tweeted the more active ones to see if they would be willing to answer a few questions from my class. I thought maybe one or two would respond since they would be busy getting ready for the Olympics after all. I was way off in my prediction as within twenty-four hours I had received responses from fifteen Canadian Olympian athletes!

I wanted to easily find the tweets for when we started our Olympic research so I came up with the hashtag #olympianchat and off we went. Today we tweeted out to Chandra Crawford (@ChandraCrawford) and James McNaughton (@McNaughtonJames). Chandra Crawford won gold in the 2006 Olympics and James McNaughton will be competing in his first Olympics. Both Chandra and James answered all of the questions shortly after we tweeted them which wasn't expected since they are busy getting ready for the Olympics. They even addressed the students, who had tweeted them, with their names. It made their day to have a tweet addressed to them. Their effort to respond and do so with enthusiasm blew me way and caused the "wow did this just happen?" moment. It was a moment that my students will remember for a long time. When they see the athletes competing they will feel a connection. Chandra and James were just the start of our #olympianchat athletes with many more to come all week long! Thank you to Chandra and James for replying today and to all other Canadian Olympians who said they would reply to our tweets this week. I appreciate the power and positive effect that your simple and quick act will have for my students. We will be cheering loudly for Chandra and James as well as all of the other Canadian athletes we connect with.

Many people from my PLN have tweeted me about this project and said how interesting it is, so my advice is jump in with your students. All that can happen is they reply with interested like fifteen or so did to my tweets or they don't reply because they are busy getting ready for the Olympics. So go for gold and see what you can get!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

C-The New Letter in Our Town

In my classroom we have moved past the 3 Rs and on to a new educational letter. We're all about the 3 Cs. My students are; connecting, collaborating, and creating. Of course, we still; write, read, and do math but using the three Cs. This year, it hasn't been a complete day unless we have done at least one of the 3 Cs. Our journey with the 3 Cs has been a exciting one that must be shared.

Last year, my 3 Cs journey began with myself personally becoming more connected (through Twitter). Soon this jumped over to my classroom as we study different communities so connecting to other classes in North America and around the world fit nicely. Being connected in our classroom means we use Social Media to interact and learn with students around the world. We tweet our learning with our twitter buddies from classes in North America and the world. Our tweet topics include; what we are learning in class, questions about topics we are learning about,  books we are reading including our Global Read Aloud novel and many more. We comment on other class blogs and receive comments from students in other classes. This year we started using Instagram to share our learning and have received comments and questions on our pictures.


Dana Ariss was one of the first people I connected with on Twitter and it has led to our classes connecting on various topics. We have recently between tweeting up a storm with the Dana Ariss's (@danaariss) class, the @gr34bears, about the book we are both reading. This wonderful book is called Wendell the World's Worst Wizard by J.C. Spencer. Both Dana and I discovered this book because we were both following one of the authors of the book-John Spencer. John (@edrethink) was promoting his book on twitter and we both fell in love with the book. We both started reading it to our classes at the same time and starting connecting with tweets on it. Our connecting with the book could have stopped there but it didn't. John and his co-author (his wife) created a twitter account for the main character in the book (@wendellwizard). They are doing an awesome job answer the questions and comments we tweet to Wendell. Last week we even had a twitter chat with the @gr34bears and @wendellwizard. It was fun for all parties involved! Before Christmas break, John even Skyped with my class to answer our questions about writing the book. It was the best Skype session I've had my class participate in. All of these connections have, also, led to awesome creating.


This year we have been creating awesome writing pieces and projects related to our read alouds. The
creativeness of John Spencer and Wendell from his chapter book have inspired us to be even more creative with our Wizard Spells and our spoof of  "What Does the Fox Say?" by Ylvis. Without twitter and these connections my students would not have had the chance to do these awesome projects. Our creating around Wendell the World's Worst Wizard led to the final C, collaboration, with the @gr34bears.


This past month we have started collaborating beyond the classroom level. My students are now not just collaborating in classroom based groups but are collaborating with Dana's class to come up with a design using the items that Wendell found on his trips to the DUMP (see Wendell the World's Worst Wizard by J.C. Spencer for more information on the DUMP). Our students used google docs to come up with a plan together as well as Skyped to make final decisions.February brings a few new collaborations with the @gr34bears. We are both studying countries as part of our social studies and so we decided to join forces for more fun and creative collaborating. Our students are partnered up to use a google doc to research a given country.  For some reason, when we were planning this project I was reminded of the TV show "Where in the World Carmen San Diego?" and thought it would be neat to use google docs and have our classes re-write the song based on the countries we are studying. My other idea was to have students work with their other class partner to come up with questions about their country and include them in our "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?" live game show in a Skype session. Dana willingly agreed to jump into this adventure and we both can't wait for the research to begin. We have more collaborations planned for later on. I hope, for as long as we are both teaching similar grade levels, that we continue to have our students collaborate and learn together.

The 3 Cs in our classroom have brought learning to a new level. I can't imagine our room without them. What is the new letter in your classroom? I hope it's C or something inspiring!