Editor’s Note: I will periodically be inviting guests to write short reviews of books that I have read and feel are particularly helpful to educators. Patti Grayson kicks-off this new feature reviewing Kathy Cassidy’s exceptional new book.
by Patti Grayson
I can’t say enough about what an invaluable resource for teachers I found Connected From the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades to be. Author and primary teacher Kathy Cassidy has included something for everyone, whether you are just beginning to find ways to connect your students to the world via the Internet and social media, or you have experience using tools like Skype, Twitter, and blogs in the classroom.
In addition to discovering how to provide this incredible learning experience for your students, you’ll learn how to bring experts into your classroom via the Internet, hold interactive student-led conferences, and help your kids develop public digital portfolios.
I was amazed at how much Kathy’s six-year olds could do online. Kathy says it well in this quote:
“Some people worry that young children should not be online because they cannot be safe. Instead, I worry that young children who are isolated from social technologies will not learn HOW to be safe online. In our increasingly connected world, it is important for even five and six year olds to begin to learn what is appropriate when using technology to connect.”
As an elementary educator, the name Kathy Cassidy was far from new to me. I’ve been following her posts at the Voices From the Learning Revolution group blog since she wrote about global learning for primary students there almost two years ago. I also follow her on Twitter, and my class follows her class on Twitter as well.
Kathy is an inspiration to elementary educators everywhere – and not just primary teachers. She is a risk-taker and boldly jumps into new connected learning experiences for the benefit of her incredibly fortunate Grade One/Two students – with amazing results. I’ve learned a great deal from this Canadian prairie teacher, thanks to her transparency. She openly and honestly talks about her teaching experiences, in the hopes that others can learn from her successes and failures.
I was proud to be featured along with Kathy in the first publication from Powerful Learning Press, The Connected Teacher: Powering Up, and was pleased to see that PLPress’s next offering provided a thorough account of Kathy’s connected teaching practices. She has much to share and her book is written in a very reader-friendly format. Her passion and excitement in the learning of her emerging readers and writers shines through in every chapter.
Speaking of format, Connected from the Start is an interactive book filled with color photos from her classroom. I loved the fact that I could relax and read it from my iPad, clicking on embedded videos of Kathy’s adorable students and links to examples of their learning. There is no wondering: “What would this look like in my classroom?” Simply click and see exactly how it’s done.
Links to resources, websites, blogs, and other information are everywhere, making the information easy to understand and accessible regardless of your experience (or lack thereof) with connected learning. Kathy also includes green shaded boxes throughout the book with additional information about the sites or apps available to support teachers and students.
Teachers will return to this book again and again as you bring the joys of connected learning to your students. Before you know it, they will be learning and sharing with others across the globe (and you will, too!).
Patti Grayson is a fourth (and sometimes third) grade teacher at Virginia’s Hampton Roads Academy and a member of the digital learning leadership team. Her articles have appeared at MindShift and Teach.com and she was named a Top 10 Teacher in the Hampton Roads community for 2012. Follow her on Twitter @pattigrayson. Her account of her own students’ adventures traveling the world via Skype can be found at the Voices blog of Powerful Learning Practice.