Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Introduction Letter-WELCOME!

Dear parents/guardians,

It’s hard to believe that summer is already over and school’s started.  This will be an exciting year with some exciting class trips and the all important farewell for the grade 8’s.   We will be having a quick parent meeting after the Fairhaven School Meet-The-Teacher Curriculum Evening on September 15th . During the meeting we will look at the technology being used in the class, discuss what trip or trips we want to do throughout the year, find volunteers for each trip and to provide information about grade 8 farewell and the transition from grade 8 to grade 9.   

Before we go any further, I am happy to announce that there will be an intern in the class from the beginning of the school year until winter break.  Her name is Teena Nelson and she brings a wealth of knowledge in the areas of treaty education and the arts.  She will be a great asset to Fairhaven School.

To help broaden the lines of communication this year; we have two options for you.  First, is the school email and if you wish to be part of this emailing service, send a quick email to cattonc@spsd.sk.ca  so we can put your address into the contacts.  We believe this to be very important because we know how hard it is to contact one another during a busy work day.
Another of the methods we use to communicate with parents, and more importantly, transform the classroom into one for 21st century learners is by using a class blog.  We love it as a tool for communicating, collaborating, creating and enabling out of school learning. It has many features such as:
  • links to web sites and information- enable students to have the same information as the teacher and to access it easily
  • wikis- allow collaborative work and us to create documents which build on others' work
  • student projects- multi-media creations such as podcasts, movies, animations and cartoons
  • links to social media such as digg, del.icious, technorati, fickr, blogs
  • teacher created posts to emphasize an idea
  • thought provoking links to stimulate critical thinking and essential questions
  • various widgets communicating anything from blog visitors to recommended books
  • many links to web 2.0 tools to communicate creatively 
 The main purposes of our class blog are:
·         for each student to learn to communicate and express opinions on a subject of their own choosing
·         for each student to develop a global on-line learning network or community from whom they learn and to whom they communicate their learning
·         for each student to share their critical thinking projects on their blog in a creative way
·         to provide the teacher with a convenient platform to encourage and enable students to communicate, create, collaborate and to extend their learning beyond the classroom.

Our class blog is one of the 21st century tools I have to bring about transformative change to my classroom.

            Another goal this year is for each student to have their own blog similar to the class blog (www.cattonteacher.blogspot.com ).  The blogs will be the student’s individual learning environment where we will set up private accounts for each student, keeping them secure by allowing only limited accessibility. These blogs can then be accessed during class time (or at home for homework), where they can be updated, edited or graded. Students can critique each other's weblogs, which can provide valuable feedback for both the students and ourselves.

            In order for students to have their own blog and use many of the free web 2.0 tools available, they must have a google email account (gmail).  Internet safety is very important and we will spend a lot of time discussing with students the do’s and don’t of the world wide web.  Special focus will be placed on protecting one’s personal identity and information and understanding the importance of proper citation and permissions.  This will be an ongoing practice that will take place throughout the entire year. 

            We hope you are as excited about this as we are since it is very important for students to be technological savvy in the 21st century.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at 683-7210, cattonc@spsd.sk.ca.


Chris Catton & Teena Nelson

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