Sunday, April 14, 2013

Connected From The Start by Kathy Cassidy - A Review

Kathy Cassidy is a grade one teacher in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.  She is one of the first grade one educators I connected with when I joined twitter in July 2011 and I can't thank her enough for generously sharing her knowledge with me.  This past week Kathy published her first book, Connected From The Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades. 

Kathy's book takes a look at the journey of connecting  young learners with the world.  In clear, gentle language Kathy explores connecting through skype, blogging, digital portfolios, twitter, and wikis.  Within each section, in addition to comprehensive text, she provides loads of links to websites, blogposts, and videos. You truly get to peek into her classroom.

I love how Kathy starts by stressing how important it is to teach our children how to be safe on-line instead of limiting their access.  And that access to an abundance of technology is not needed to get started on this journey.  A lot of what Kathy talks about can be done with just one device with internet access.  

What inspired me when I first met Kathy is how she has her young learners blogging from the very first day of school.  Her chapter on blogging clearly explains the how and the why behind this thinking.  She writes: 

If I did not let my pre-writer students post on their blogs, but instead waited until they could write prose correctly using writing conventions such as capital letters, periods, spaces between words and acceptable spelling, they would not be able to post for many months. Their parents would miss out on the opportunity to watch and be part of the incredible growth that takes place as children are learning to write. The students would be denied a global audience for their work and they would miss some encouraging early feedback in the form of comments. pg 68

In her chapter on digital portfolios Kathy reminds the reader how powerful making learning visible is and how important it is to have the child involved with making decision about the sharing of their learning.  

Throughout the book Kathy continues to remind us that having  students connected provides them with authentic literacy opportunities. Using twitter is about reading and skyping is about listening and speaking.  Connecting with real people whether through skype, blogs, wikis etc.. is a powerful way to learn.  In her words...

I could have just told the children that people around the world eat different things for breakfast. I could have suggested foods that these other people might eat. I could have read them books. I could even have bought the same Vegemite and shared it with the children. But the process of the students actually collecting information from other people around the world, and of discovering the commonalities and differences for themselves, made the experience so much richer and more meaningful.  pg. 104

But in true Kathy style she remains humble.  She talks about many of the errors that she's made along the way but stresses that it's okay to make mistakes.  This genuine honesty makes it easy for the reader to connect to her writing. 

Kathy is a truly gifted educator. Her book provides many examples of ways to connect a primary classroom with the world.  It is an inspiring read, and one that should be read by all primary teachers.


  1. Thank you Karen, for your kind words. I appreciate them.
    It is great to know there is another grade one teacher who has become as passionate about connecting as I am. More than once you have patiently commented on the blogs of ALL of my students--I appreciate that so much.
    Connecting with your class has been a wonderful experience for my class and for myself! We're looking forward to lots more connections.

  2. I follow both of you regularly. Thank you for being leaders who walk your talk and share as you learn.