April 10, 2013

Connected From The Start

Kathy with a studentIt’s my pleasure to announce the publishing of Kathy Cassidy’s new book about primary learners. Kathy is a long time friend and colleague who I’ve long admired and watched her own growth as a connected learner and teacher. I was privileged to be ask to write the foreword which I’ll share here:

In my personal journey with technology, there are two very distinct “aha” moments. Number one came in 1997 when I created my first webpage using something called html. Inputting some weird symbols on a screen, sending them up to something called a web server, using something called FTP, and then knowing that the page could be seen by anyone anywhere with an internet connection and something called a web browser was transformational. Computing was about possibilities.

The second aha occurred in 2003, when I discovered something called a blog. I should say that in my rolefor nine years as a district technology consultant, aha moments were not of much value unless I could help teachers somehow see the same value as I did. While the complexity of computing often assumed it would be best suited for more mature students, I could see the potential for early learners as well.

So did Kathy Cassidy.

It wasn’t until I offered a workshop on blogging that we really began to teach each other. To be honest, I don’t remember much about my intent other than to show teachers this cool new idea around web publishing. I do remember Kathy asking if I thought her young students could do this. As a former primary teacher and one always interested in a slightly crazy idea, I said, “Absolutely.” I really had no idea. But I did know that if it was possible, Kathy would make it work. And she did. And that was only the beginning. While I often considered myself the proprietor of the “crazy idea factory,” it was Kathy who thoughtfully implemented many of our crazy ideas and made them into something powerful for students.

When I talk to teachers about the powerful potential of computing and technology in the classroom, it’s rare I do so without mentioning Kathy. When teachers question whether these things can be implemented, and I tell them that Kathy teaches 6 and 7 year olds, they’re usually astounded.

Kathy has become a shining example of what one teacher with some grit, curiosity and passion can do. As Kathy will often tell you, she doesn’t feel like she’s very tech savvy. That’s where grit comes in. She asks a lot of questions. I wish I had all the email queries and messages she’s sent me over the years. I could not always answer them, but she was never afraid to ask. That’s curiosity. Kathy has also been gracious, albeit at times hesitant, in sharing her best ideas. That’s because she’s passionate about teaching and learning. This book includes many of the things she’s discovered, presented at the level of detail other teachers like to see.

You’re reading this book because you want to learn more. You’re like Kathy, curious and motivated to help children experience learning and life to the fullest. Kathy has paved the way for countless numbers of primary teachers to feel empowered to take their students to places many could never have imagined. Chances are, you’re about to join their company.

And here’s the very best part of this book. After you finish reading it, unlike many authors, you’ll not be finished learning with Kathy. As I mentioned, she’s very gracious and willing to help. Yes, she’s a full time classroom teacher but it doesn’t stop her from reaching out and sharing with whomever reaches out
to her. She continues to blog, tweet and post questions and ideas that engage her and others in her learning network. You get to participate with her as well. So after you read the book or maybe pass it along to a colleague, send her a message, keep asking questions and continue to learn together.

I’d not only encourage you to buy the book but perhaps as an administrator, gift it to your primary teachers, maybe use it as a book study. Either way, you’re getting a great insight into what learning can be when your young students are connected.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathycassidy/8522478858/