Sunday, July 15, 2012

What a YEAR!

As I look back on my year I can't believe how much has changed for me.  Here is my attempt to recap the journey I have taken professionally in the 2011-2012 school year.

• joined Twitter in July 2011 and now follow over 750 people, have over 775 following me, and have tweeted over 5,500 times not including my direct messaging (tons!)
• started this professional blog as a way to document and share some of my learning
• took part in many twitter educational chats including but not limited to #1stchat, #kinderchat, #edchat, #elemchat #gtchat, #storyappchat, #D5chat
• set up a class blog which ended up with 199 posts, 253 comments, and over 22,000 hits
• set up individual blogs for my grade one students who have now written over 750 posts and received over 1,600 comments
• completely changed my writing program to allow my students more choice with their writing and in the process created genuinely motivated writers
• completely changed my reading program to allow my students more choice with their reading and in the process created genuinely motivated readers
• changed my word work program to all my students more choice with their word work and in the process created self motivated learners
• dropped my traditional "calendar" routines and replaced it with math chat
• used the Mind Up, Fun Friends, and Fin's Friends social emotional programs to better meet my students social emotional needs
• learned and used many web 2.0 tools
• utilized  technology to better meet the individual needs of my students,  and to connect my class with the world
• set up a class twitter, youtube, and closed class facebook account
• was selected to a part of a special district literacy learning lab utilizing technology with early primary students
• helped write a successful Innovative Learning Design grant application
• created many videos and slide shows
• had my class Skype and Face Time with students in Illinois, Ontario. and Saskatchewan
• Skyped, Google Hung Out, and Face Time'd with teachers in Hong Kong, Illinois, Ontario (several), Saskatchewan, and Florida
• had my class read and comment on class blogs from around the world
• read and commented on many professional blogs from around the world
• participated in three global projects - Quad Blogging, Flat Classroom : Building Bridges K-2 Pilot Project April-May, and Bean Wiki with my class
• attended EdCampDelta, EdCampSurrey, and EdCampKinder in Las Vegas
• visited three schools and had several teachers both from my district and another district visit my classroom to learn and share
• met and connected with several Surrey School District teachers, administrators, and school district leaders ( I am far more known around the district this year than I have in any other time in my career)
• presented professional development workshops for my staff and my school district
• asked to present professional development workshops at three more schools at the beginning of the new school year, as well as for the Surrey Primary Teachers association
• wrote posts on Twitter, Tablet Computer Apps, and Digital Literacy for the International Reading Association
• sparked the use of KidBlog as a blogging platform for students in my school district, and beyond
• participated in webinars
• attended two workshops at Apple Canada Institute
• attended Surrey's Digital Dinner series
• attended two BC Primary teacher's conventions
• attended workshops led by Alec Couros, George Couros, Adrienne Gear (Reading Power), Gail Boushey and Joan Moser (Cafe), and Lilian Katz (Reggio)
• have read (or in the middle of reading) Mind Set by Carol Dweck, Drive by Daniel Pink, No More "I'm Done!" by Jennifer Jacobson, Personal Learning Networks by Richardson and Mancabelli, Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller, Catching Reader's Before They Fall by Johnson and Keir,In Pictures and In Words by Ray, Writing Power by Adrienne Gear, Reading Power by Adrienne Gear, Reading Power Non Fiction by Adrienne Gear, Choice Words by Peter Johnston, The Daily 5 and The Cafe by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds by Lindsay and Davis, Math Exchanges by Kassia Omohundro Wedekind, Teaching with Tools Kids Really Use by Susan Brooks-Young, Making Thinking Visible by Ritchhart and Church and Morrison, Number Sense Routines by Jessica Shumway, One to One The Art of Conferring with Young Writers by Calkins and Hartman and White, The Passion-Driven Classroom by Maiers and Sandvold, Play by Lisa Murphy and the list continues...
• successfully completed 20 years of teaching and still love it as much, if not more than ever before

A special thank you to my #1stchat, #kinderchat, #sd36learn, #bclearns, #bced, and #elemchat friends. Without you I wonder how much of this would ever have happened.  An extra special thank you to Elisa Carlson (Director of Instruction, Surrey School District) for believing in me. Elisa will never really know how powerful that has been for me and I can't thank her enough.  And yes, of course, I need to thank Tia Henriksen, mother of one of my grade one students this year, former vice principal of mine, and friend because it was she who coaxed me into giving twitter a try.

What a year it has been. What have you accomplished this year? I'd love to hear.

Next up, goals for the 2012-2013 school year.


  1. What books did you read?

    1. Not sure I how I forgot to add those as I've read a ton of professional books this year. I've added them now.

  2. Loving your blog. What a great year. Proud to have you in my PLN!

    1. Thanks Matt it has been a huge year for me. Trying to remember all the "new" things I did this year wasn't easy, and I'm also pretty sure I've forgotten a few too. I am very thankful to have you as part of my PLN. You specifically inspired my class facebook page.

  3. Karen, what a wonderful post. I read it like I'm sure you typed it - without breathing much in between! What a year you've had. WOW! Love the list of professional books you have read.

    1. Yes, this post was brought about some head spinning as i tried to remember all the NEW things I did this year. Learning more about "good" children's literature, and using it more regularly with my teaching is a priority for me next year. You certainly have played a role in that goal of mine.

  4. Hi Karen,

    No doubt about it, you've had an incredible year. It has been quite the journey!

    I'm sure the next year will even be that much better.


    PS No shout out for the person who got you started on this journey to begin with?

    1. I can't imagine travelling at the same speed I travelled this year, next year but then again who really knows. If you go back and read my post again you'll see I have added a little mention. Thanks for giving me the push.

  5. What an incredible list, Karen! So happy to have you as a part of my PLN!

    1. Thanks Laura. You, like Carrie above have been instrumental in making me more away of good literature for children. As i said to Carrie it is my goal to better utilize good literature for examples while teaching reading, writing, and math skills. I love learning with you Laura.

  6. Wow, what a year is right! Way to go, Karen...and so glad you came to EdCampKinder! :-)


    1. Me too Michelle, me too! It has been a bit of a crazy year for me but so many amazing connections have been made this year too. I love having my thinking pushed and you and the #kinderchat gang do that very nicely. :-)

  7. Karen, it's clear that this has been a most incredible year for you. I'm in awe of all that you changed. Now I'm curious too: what impact do you think these changes had on your students? Are there any changes that you regret? Why? What's your big goal for next year?

    Thanks for always giving me so much to think about! I love learning from you.


    1. The biggest impact for my students is that for the first time they were at the centre of their learning and I was there to help guide them on their way. I love that I gave them choice and freedoms something I haven't done to this extent in the past. While I had a class that really struggled with many academic aspects, and were far more anxious than in years past in my room they were keen, happy, motivated learners and an absolute joy to teach. As for regrets, that I didn't make some of these changes earlier. As always though there will be things to change again for next year. I want to get outside more and learn in the REAL world, I want to get even more efficient with my teaching time, and with a new bell schedule that is NOT in the best interests of my students learning I will need to rethink my timetable. I'm still deciding on the top three goals for the 2012/13 year so you'll have to wait for that post to be written. Not to worry Aviva, it WILL be written.

  8. I LOVE that you are willing to take risks and try new things even after 20 years!! Such an amazing list of accomplishments this year!! :)
    Unfortunately, some teachers with 20 years experience go into "auto pilot" as they feel they've "mastered" the teaching thing... but yet, any good teacher knows, that's IMPOSSIBLE!! You've done the very opposite... what a year!! WOW! You've made changes that will benefit your students so very much! You're also not throwing out all the old ideas, just taking on the new as you see what will help your students and yourself to become better life-long learners. Thank you for inspiring us to keep trying to new things.
    Looking forward to learning from you and with you as the school year begins!

    1. Jenni, thanks for the kind words and you're right there is still a lot that I haven't changed because I believe it is what's best for my students. I'm really excited to start the collaborative writing project with you this fall. I also hope that you will come to the Thursday night Tweet Up in Toronto so I can meet you face to face. Here's to another great year.

  9. Okay first did you sleep at all this year :-). Wow you were busy I am interested in you math chat !? Tell me more about that I hate calendar time @pattymcn

    1. Sleep, ah yes, sleep how I miss thee. Sleep has been an issue for me this year but I think it has more to do with getting older (yikes did I just say that) than anything else. As for dropping Calendar routines I blogged about it here.
      When I did calendar I did it at the beginning of my math block, not part of my morning routine. So now in that time I have math chat where we review math concepts we are learning through games or discussions. Right now I'm reading Number Sense Routines by Jessica Shumway which has several of the activities I was already doing during math chat, and a whole lot more great ones I will implement this school year. If you haven't read her book I highly recommend it.
      I think in term one we will look at the calendar again and I'm thinking every Monday we will talk about the week, what is happening on each day of the week, and what is coming up in other weeks. But as far as doing the days of the week song, yesterday, today, tomorrow we'll skip that. The verdict is out about graphing the weather daily etc.. We'll see what takes shape. This year I dumped Calendar in January. I hope that helps answer some of your questions. I could write an entire blog but i'm already so far behind in my blog posts. I'll get there eventually. :-)

  10. Thanks I am looking up that book now @pattymcn

  11. Isn't it crazy all the new things you've done? Don't you feel like a first-year teacher again?! Great job being able to list all of them! Keep it up - and have fun doing it, too!!

    1. Thanks Joy. The cool thing about this year and all my changes is that I DIDN'T feel like a first year teacher because I had the 20 years of experience behind me to make the decisions I needed to make to continue to improve my practice. It was invigorating and inspiring for me. Experience is a powerful thing when used properly. It isn't something you can read about in a book either, but when you read what you read in a book it helps make it easier to fit into what you already believe to be best practice. The secret of course is to keep reading, learning, and sharing with others.