It's Elementary!

by Jamie Forrest

Reflections on September 14th Class September 15, 2010

Filed under: Class reflections,eci831 — Jamie @ 11:20 pm

Tuesday evening was our first class.  It was held on Elluminate.  I have never before participated in an online class nor have I used this tool.  I was very nervous about this.  However, the experience was very good.  Alec guided us through the outline of the class as well as through the technical aspects of using Elluminate.

I was absolutely fascinated by the breadth of geography of the participants taking part in this class.  It is always nice to learn from teachers in the same province, but I really look forward to learning from and learning about the teachers from outside of Saskatchewan.  Since I joined Twitter in January, one of many things that I have enjoyed has been learning about the different working environments and conditions of my colleagues outside of my province and country.  Because I grew up in Saskatchewan, went to university in Saskatchewan and have taught only in Saskatchewan, I had a pretty small view of what a teacher’s experience of school was.  This is no longer the case.  Each new person I connect with expands this view while helping me understand my own better.  I look forward to enlarging my learning network to include those in our class.

A little about myself…  I am a High School trained teacher with a French major and Math minor.  I taught half a year in high school, then moved to middle years.  I taught 6/7 for three years then moved down to grade 3.  This is my 8th year teaching third grade.  This is my home and I love it!  I am passionate about learning, both for myself and my students.  I love reading and make it a goal each year to share my love of books with my students.  Two years ago, I applied for a grant to get a SMART Board and was successful.  Last fall the whole kit was installed in my classroom and so began my real journey of learning about technology.  However, what I thought would be a journey into tech integration became more a journey about best practices, cutting edge educational research, and world-wide collaboration which, of course included technology.  This journey led has led me on many paths, one of which was to this class.  Through my love of reading and my technology leadership in my school, I was also asked to take on a role of “teacher-leader” as our school takes on Accelerated Reader this year.

This new role is leading me towards the potential focus for my project.  I have read such negative reviews of the AR program from reading teachers I have come to admire greatly on Twitter.  As far as I can tell, many of their concerns are not necessarily with the program itself, but with the administration of the program.  I think that the focus needs to stay on the enjoyment of reading rather than on the gaining of reading points for report card marks.  One way that I have managed to share my love of reading with and its development in the students in my classroom has been through book talks.  Talking about books gets kids excited to read them.  In order to keep that spirit, I would like to create some way for students to share their reactions to books with all the students of the school, rather than just their classmates.  I do not know exactly how to do this, but I was hoping to set up some way for students to be able to do podcasts or blog about the books that they read for others to be able to read the reviews.  It would have to be searchable in some way so others can find the reviews.  I was thinking of something similar to Shelfari or Goodreads but just for our school to start, and to be able to include more multi-media options.  I have read more and more recently about libraries using QR codes as well.  You can hear more about them in this video called QR Codes on Library Books? or for more general use of QR codes in education, this video Black & White and Scanned All Over.   At this point, these are all just ideas with no clear plan yet.  Is this doable?


11 Responses to “Reflections on September 14th Class”

  1. Leonor Cristina Santos Says:


    Great ideas. New to me. I sure hope you make it.


  2. I have noted your blog through Alec’s reference on Twitter.
    How to encourage students to share their reactions to books with all students of the school? Wow, that is easier said than done, at least for young kids who have little or no experience in sharing. When I was in my grade 7, the teacher encouraged us to form peer group (one-on-one) reading book to each other during recess or lunch or before or after school. That was part of the initiative to improve reading and speaking. We then had to briefly report back on what each has learnt through the activities. That worked and students shared through talking them aloud, and reflections.

    So, would starting with small group sharing work, at least as an induction? Once they feel comfortable in sharing, they would try social networking, with more reflective writings, without us pushing them through. Let them share in the class first, so their confidence would be boosted. Kids love encouragement and support, like adults.

    Kids like technology, but would we build people around them, where technology is just an enabler of learning, rather than mere adoption of technology without deep learning?

    Wish you well with your teaching.
    Thanks again for sharing.

  3. Al Smith Says:

    It is so nice to here of your progress as well as your broadening horizons! It will help make your career so rewarding. Your new role as Teacher-Leader will be a challenge but also full of delights. As far as AR goes…as a parent, 30 yr teacher with Elem and Secondary experience and a teacher-librarian for 12 years, I have serious reservations about any delimited program. The thought of sending a little boy back to the shelves because he isn’t permitted to choose a book he originally was motivated to select makes me cringe. When my son chose a book(too difficult to read) he still learned and was inspired to inquire and read more. He is now an engineer who reads everything…my heart and critical mind tells me it isn’t the ‘science’ or method but the story that moves us all to learn.
    You may wish to read 2 position statements from the BC Teacher-Librarians Association. As an active member and 30 vet of the public school classroom, I recognize the talent, hardwork and vision of school librarians. @bctla Your beloved Sask. has some amazing TL’s as well. Follow @donnadesroches
    Follow my thoughts and occasional rants at: or Twitter @literateowl Read my more sober school web site and blogs at:
    GOOD LUCK! my grandchildren need you and those colleagues you inspire!! Al Smith Kelowna BC

  4. Lisa M Lane Says:

    I love this: “However, what I thought would be a journey into tech integration became more a journey about best practices, cutting edge educational research, and world-wide collaboration which, of course included technology. ”

    I think the very best uses of technology are the ones where the technology itself wasn’t the focus as it was figured out!

  5. byrnesa Says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I am going to pick out a part of your blog to comment on. I do not know much about the AR program, so I will leave that, but one comment that you made that validated things i am doing in my own classroom is,

    “I was hoping to set up some way for students to be able to do podcasts or blog about the books that they read for others to be able to read the reviews. ”

    I really like this idea and am planning on doing a similar project with my middle years students. My elementary teachers are implementing the Daily 5 and Cafe in their classrooms and one thing they lack are books on tape. My students are going to put some favourite picture books on “tape” (computer files) for the younger students. I am going to do this to get them used to the technology and then want to move into exactly what you were talking about, podcasts… like reading response journals but instead of written, done orally and published so others can access them.

    We will have to connect sometime and discuss how to implement this. For me, it’s still just an idea in my head and one I have to further explore. I think I am going to start with audacity… is there a program you planned on using?

    • Jamie Says:

      Hi Angela. First, I think you meant to direct your comment to me, Jamie, right? Anyway, I would love to connect with you and have the chance to bounce ideas off each other. I don’t really know exactly what I want to do, I would just like to have a forum where kids can share what they love about books! I also love the idea of having older students create books on tape for the younger students. In French Immersion, there are very few books on tape available for our students to listen to stories as well… I have used Audacity before to create short pronunciation guides for my students and their parents. I have never actually created a podcast, so here’s to learning this semester! Thanks for your comment and for sharing! I look forward to more conversations about this!

  6. byrnesa Says:

    Sorry Jamie… I did mean to comment directly to you

  7. Tim Says:

    Hi Jamie,

    I have signed up as a mentor for this class. I am a teacher-librarian at a private school in Toronto. I am really interested in this idea of having students share their reading with other students. The library catalogue software we use allows us some Amazon-like interactivity. Students can write reviews and star particular books and this information appears in the catalogue record. Web-based catalogues can support all kinds of additional content, so you may want to look at whatever your school or board uses.

    I have had some vague thoughts about QR codes (my partner works in student life at the University of Toronto and has employed them to get information out to students there), but I am really excited about some of the possibilities your post and the video suggest.



  8. ktenkely Says:

    It is definitely doable! About 3 years ago I started having my students create what I call “bookcasts” these are podcasts that are a little like a radio trailer for the book they had just read. I created a wiki for the bookcasts where students could embed their recordings. They turned out amazing! I organized the wiki by level (elementary) but you could do it by genre. It becomes searchable as kids tag their entries with the book title, author, genre, and some keywords. I wish I could share an example with you but at the time we were using gcast (record by phone because we didn’t have enough microphones) which has since gone under and the recordings can no longer be played. You can read about how I did it here: If you need an easy way for kids to record, by phone options are really great. Kids call a special number, record and the recording is automatically saved at a unique url that can be embeded. is a great service and is similar to what I used.

    Good luck!

  9. Aiden Yeh Says:

    Dear Jamie,

    I would love to see your podcast/blog student project come to life. You may want to check out this website, storytelling/reading for kids by kids. This link was shared in IATEFL’s Young Learner SIG group at, OR join the community at

    Aiden Yeh

  10. […] about this idea and some of the videos that have inspired me in the last paragraph of my blog post here.  So, in order to make this happen, I have been exploring the […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s